The Aging of Reason

Why does he document himself aging? Every five years he makes a mould of his face, fills it with 10 pints of blood. The sculptures are then kept in a Perspex box filled with silica and chilled to minus 18 degrees Celsius to prevent them from turning to liquid. Precious. An ode to life frozen and afraid of flowing like the warmth of life-giving blood.

British artist Marc Quinn says, “I think I’m more obsessed with life than death. Death’s inevitable, and slightly boring.”

This is why he makes it interesting by celebrating “the powers of the human body”. The last one was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in London for $500,000. His earliest work is worth millions of pounds. This is an interesting aspect of art as not a statement but evolution of the human being.

Quinn is quite contemporaneous in his oeuvre. Take a couple of examples...

Alison Lapper Pregnant – a marble sculpture of a woman born without arms:

Sphinx – painted-bronze sculptures of Kate Moss in yoga positions:

In the latter, though inspired by the earlier one, he used the model to “explore the opposite: the body that everyone thinks is absolutely perfect”.

Here, Quinn has fallen for a faddist idea. Just as he believes that Moss as model and person have different lives, he ought to understand that the fashion industry’s idea of perfection is not the real world’s perception. In fact, perfection even as a means to manipulate a counter-perfection is antithetical to art, for it merely uses ready material as illustration.

The woman born without arms, on the other hand, has not been culturised. She is a part of the natural process of being. He might believe he has through Moss created an abstraction but he did use Moss.

Coming up next year he has a new series of sculptures of “people who’ve transformed themselves with plastic surgery”.

Again, a contemporary statement. Will he use real role models? Will it show evolution or disintegration? Is there a likelihood of it being a parody of such surgical intervention or will it be an observation of the same ‘growth’ of the aging process he uses his blood heads for?

I don’t find his works disturbing, a term he dislikes. “I think you have to make work that makes you feel things and people don’t like feeling things.”

It is more than feeling things. It is unfeeling them. There is detachment in taking the real, transforming it and pushing it into the extreme version of one kind of authenticity.

He may freeze some of his blood but will he allow it to congeal within him?


  1. Very nice blog.
    What is the purpose of Art .Is it to create controversy,money,learning,promotion of material form .Marc Quinn has succeeded in doing first two and that gives him freedom to follow any whim he may have.
    Would i call his works( from the examples you have depicted voyeuristic ? yes yes yes. Kate Moss is depicted in the face, crotch sexuality not even disguised as some tribute to art of yoga.An orange lungi might have done that.
    A pregnant Madonna and besides armless falls in the same category.
    Are not these modern freak shows disguised as Art( not counting the skill of the artist).
    Sorry if i sound dated i have not partaken much art lately other than at the temple of Farzana.
    Just want to tell all of my fellow readers that Smithsonian the National Museum of United States in Washington DC is free for all.It got started by donation of Mr Smithson more than 150 years ago.Besides all the services(food novelties etc) are very reasonably priced as these institutions are thought as part of national heritage and get private and public support.
    I had paid about 10 franks(then currency of france) at the Louvre in 1971.
    I am saying this as many Americans do not even know and some times find it hard to believe that such a premium institution can be free.
    Smithsonian has acres and acres of artifacts , curators and interpreters of the all works from minerals, history, airspace.Did I mention it, it is all free.My favourite Darshan and Prasad only for seeking.

  2. Kul Bhushan:

    Thanks for the info on Smithsonian...

    About Quinn, I like to see it as beyond voyeurism because he is also exposing himself. he has tried to offer a challenging way of doing art but ultimately fell into some sort of defined ideas. It would happen, I guess, after a while of exploration.

    Anyhow, for me he is god stimulation,, and beyond the blog.

    Glad you are journeying along.

  3. I mean 'good stimulation'!


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