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Indepth Arts News:

"Marc Quinn"
2002-02-01 until 0000-00-00
Tate Liverpool
Liverpool, , UK United Kingdom

Tate Liverpool is to host a major exhibition of the work of Marc Quinn – his most significant to date. Quinn came to prominence in the early 1990s with his sculpture Self (1991), a refrigerated cast of his own head made using nine pints of his own blood. Since then, Quinn has produced a diverse range of work, most of which is preoccupied with the ever changing physical states of the body and addresses ideas about science, mortality and survival in our age of genetic manipulation.

The Tate Liverpool exhibition presents a large body of new work and will highlight the multi-faceted nature of Quinn’s practice, bringing together a wide variety of painting, sculpture, drawing and photography. The exhibition will explore a number of Quinn’s key themes including creation and the beginnings of life, nature, death and beauty. To illuminate Quinn’s creative process a large selection of his drawings and photographs from the last decade, which have never been shown before, will be presented. These will be juxtaposed with a new frozen cast of the head of the artist’s baby son, Lucas. Quinn remakes Self every five years but for Tate Liverpool’s exhibition he is giving it a new twist – the cast of his baby’s head made out of his own blood.

The exhibition will include marble pieces, such as The Kiss, a double portrait of Mat Fraser and Catherine Long that are part of the series of statues of men and women amputees. Inspired by the lost limbs of classical sculptures, Quinn casts his subject’s bodies and then passes them to an Italian workshop to be sculpted in marble. These detailed and pristine sculptures carved from Cararra marble refer to the classical tradition of sculpture, yet also subvert this by questioning the notion of the heroic and the beautiful. The artificial perfection of the superwhite marble adds another layer to this complex examination of human perfection.

Much of Quinn’s work refers to traditional genres of art such as portraiture, landscape and still life. He frequently makes use of refrigeration techniques to preserve flowers, entrapping them forever in a state of limbo. In Reincarnate, 1999, the artist placed a real orchid in a vase made from animal’s blood and his Eternal Spring sculpture is composed of a vase of funeral lilies displayed at the moment of their most perfect florescence. As long as they remain frozen the illusion of this perfect moment of life is maintained; if the fridge is turned off the processes of life will resume and they will rot.

The exhibition will also include a number of new paintings based on The Garden theme. The Garden was a huge silicone-filled installation which mixed unlikely plants in a setting that initially looked natural but was, of course, a highly artificial eternal paradise. Tate Liverpool will feature a DNA piece which has seventy-seven DNA portraits – seventy-five different species from The Garden and two from humans representing Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Paintings by Numbers features randomly applied numbers assigned to paintings of flowers and plants to highlight the classification of plants. In these pieces plants that would not normally grow together are put together. This, explains Quinn, demonstrates the crossover between science and consumerism. At a time when issues such as genetic manipulation and cloning are being hotly debated, Quinn’s flower pieces emphasise the fusion of the animate and inanimate and hint at the interventionist role of science.

In collaboration with National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, three of Quinn’s marble pieces will be on display at the Walker (William Brown Street, Liverpool) from 8th February 2002.


Marc Quinn was born in London in 1964. He graduated from Cambridge University in 1986 and had his first solo show in 1988 at the Jay Jopling/Otis Gallery, London. He was selected for the Sydney Biennial in 1992 and was represented in Young British Artists II at the Saatchi Gallery in 1993. In June 2001 Quinn won the Royal Academy’s £25,000 Charles Wollaston prize for the most distinguished work in the summer exhibition. The National Portrait Gallery recently commissioned Quinn to produce a portrait of Sir John Sulston (former director of the Sanger Centre and a leading contributor to the Human Genome Project). Quinn took a sample of Sulston’s DNA to make the portrait which is an exact representation of its subject.

An illustrated catalogue will be produced to accompany the exhibition.

Marc Quinn
Qarden, 2000
Courtesy by Fondazione Prada

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