Marc Quinn. Recent Sculpture

From 29 April to 27 August 2006, the Groninger Museum will present the first large-scale museum exhibition of the work of the British artist Marc Quinn (London 1964) in the Netherlands. The exhibition will display a selection of new and recent work such as The Complete Marbles, The Big Bang, DNA portraits, work from the Flesh series, and a sculpture for which super-model Kate Moss posed.

The oeuvre of Marc Quinn is extremely varied. He makes sculptures, spatial installations, photographs, and paintings. His choice of material ranges from traditional materials such as bronze, glass and marble to less obvious substances such as ice, bread, blood, lead, and even DNA. The work is occasionally spectacular and provocative, whereas at other times it is reserved and touching. However, regardless of all the external variety, Quinn’s theme remains constant: a reflection on both the transience and the beauty of life.

Marc Quinn was one of to the much-discussed group of Young British Artists who fired the imagination of the international art world in the early nineties. In 1991, Quinn attracted international attention with his sculpture Self, a self-portrait cast with five litres of his own blood, which was exhibited in a permanently frozen state in a special showcase.

Having used his own body as the basis of his work for a number of years, in 1999 Quinn began on the series entitled The Complete Marbles which is oriented toward others. It is a series of portrait sculptures of people who miss one or more limbs. The fact that he generated these sculptures in white Italian marble produces an alienating effect. Since the Ancient Greeks, white marble seems to have been reserved for the presentation of an ideal picture of perfect beauty. Nevertheless, white marble sculptures, as handed down to us from Antiquity, are often also bruised and battered and miss a limb or two. This is occasionally regarded as an accentuation of perfect beauty rather than a deficiency, as is the case with the missing arms of Venus de Milo, for example.

A major landmark in his career occurred when the marble statue of Alison Lapper Pregnant was unveiled on Trafalgar Square in September 2005. The model was the pregnant, disabled artist Alison Lapper. The original life-size version of Alison will be on display in the exhibition. This series has strong social undertones and can be regarded as a plea for the emancipation of disabled people.

2001 witnessed the creation of the DNA portraits, whose basis consists of DNA that has been replicated by means of standard cloning technology. A portrait is thus not a copy of the appearance of the person being portrayed, but is actually his genetic code. It is more than true-to-life, it is genuinely alive. The bronze sculptures in the exhibition are based on popped popcorn. In combination with their title The Big Bang, these works stimulate the discussion from a pop-art perspective on extremely serious topics such as the origins of the universe and the theory of evolution, matters which have again become hot items in society. None of the works presented have been shown in the Netherlands previously. They display the wealth of imagination and layered awareness of one of the most interesting artists of the present day.

Book
In conjunction with NAI Uitgevers, a book has been published to accompany the exhibition. With a layout by Rudo Menge, it contains 120 pages of comprehensive information in Dutch and English. The authors are Rod Mengham and Sue-an van der Zijpp.

This event fits in with the Groningen Museum’s policy on solo exhibitions featuring relatively young artists of national and international standard. In addition to the Chapman brothers (2002), the Groninger Museum has also exhibited the work of Dutchman Erik van Lieshout (2002), Australian designer Marc Newson (2004), and British-Cypriot fashion designer Hussein Chalayan (2005).

Note for the editor:
Exhibition compilation: Sue-an van der Zijpp, layout: Mark Wilson For additional information: Josee Selbach, jselbach@groningermuseum.nl, +31 (0)50-3666555, Jolien Kunst, jkunst@groningermuseum.nl, www.groningermuseum.nl