Marc Quinn is one of my favorite artists right now. His work, to my liking, is a combination of ugly and beautiful and is “calculating[ly] provocative”. He takes the normal, finds something twisted or unwanted about it, and then proceeds to sculpt or paint it into something magnificent. His work was featured in 2000 in the highly-touristic and typically conservative/stiff Trafalgar Square in London. The square hosts four plinths, three of which properly hold statues of King George IV and two military generals, Henry Havelock and Sir Charles James Napier. The last of the 4 plinths was supposed to hold a statue depicting William IV, but apparently people didn’t like him enough to want to pay for a statue in his honor, so the last plinth lied barren, and since has been used to display public works of art. Marc Quinn was commissioned to put a sculpture up on the plinth, and in his artistic fashion chose a rather shocking and loud piece to display to the London public. The piece he chose was of a deformed and pregnant Alison Lapper, a british artist born with a congenial disorder that left her without arms and with stubs of legs.
The piece sparked controversy on two levels. One, because people don’t like having to look at the delicate state of human health and of life in general as it reminds them of their own potential and inevitability for illnesses, deformities and death (meanwhile being placed on a plinth in the heart of London they couldn’t avoid it). Secondly, People also didn’t like the sculpture because of the fact that this deformed, disadvantaged woman was going to give life to a child she could neither hold in her arms nor change diapers for. Lapper has proven to be a good mother, and gave birth to a fully formed child in 1999. And while at first Londoners hated the piece, an overwhelming majority of the city grew to love it roughly a year later (90%, according to a city-wide poll taken).
Some of my favorite work by Quinn (from 2006) are his sculptures and paintings of Kate Moss doing yoga. She’s not actually the one that posed for Quinn, though, but if that were so I’d have infinitely more respect for the model icon than I already do (the fact that she picked herself up and dusted herself off after being cast out of the modeling industry for cocaine use, only to come back and triple her already respectable income is pretty fantastic and applause worthy if I do say so myself).
Unfortunately, I couldn’t really find any satisfactory paintings he did of Moss yoga on the web, but they are pretty exquisite as well.
—Side note: I’m completely thrilled because Quinn is scheduled to have an exhibition displaying his new work in Norway opening this May, so I’ll be able to catch it when I’m there in June(!!)
One other quirky Quinn work that is both gross but intriguing is/are his frozen blood sculptures which he makes every 5 years of his own head (using 4.5 liters of his blood), which he does apparently to show the aging process. I was pretty grossed out when I first heard of it, and i’m not completely sold on the idea yet, but it’s definitely worth sharing and interesting nonetheless in concept.