Marc Quinn, 1964–

Marc Quinn, a contemporary artist and sculpture, works arises from a deep fascination with existence. The materials are both form and content in which he uses art history to investigate and expand and broaden our thinking about the essence of being human. In this journey he has shown himself to be inclusive in his choice of subject matter focusing often in interesting and revealing ways on subject matter that many artists would rather ignore often focusing on disabled people.

For example, as a recovering alcoholism Marc produced etchings and then lead cast sculpture of emotional detoxification in the Seven Deadly Sins (1994) -anger, avarice, envy, gluttony, lust, pride and sloth. The body parts used were molds of his own body.

Emotional Detox Seven Deadly Sins 1994


Works such as the above compel viewers to think, confronting them with their own ideas about beauty and ugliness, life and death, art and science, normal and abnormal. Quinn in much of his work studies his own body as a point of departure. So in Self he made a portrait head of five litres of his own frozen blood making the vulnerability of existence palpable.

Head filled blood front

In 1997 in his Shit Paintings Quinn again challenged the viewer ‘It is absurd that through culture people become alienated from something of themselves or a function of themselves.’

The paintings were prepared treated and covered to not smell.

Shit painting 1997Shit head 1997

In 1997 -1999 Nervous Breakdown feature  casts of the artist’s head covered in thick layers of rubber almost hidden behind a mask of rubber, impaled on a stake-a horrific effect.

mustard use (1 of 1)-2Scarlet Nervous breakdown 1997


In the late 1990’s Quinn’s work took a turn focusing on other people. This took two directions, one focusing on flowers and the other on bodies. Walking through a museum and seeing all the ancient sculptures with parts missing he wondered how people would react to living human beings whose bodies had the same for. This lead to the series Complete Marbles (1999-20001). Quinn sought models who from birth or after an accident lacked one or more limbs. He made casts of them and then had Italian craftspeople produce sculptures in dazzling white marble in the classic tradition.

Alexandra Westmoquette 2000

Alexander Westmoquette

Stuart Penn Victoria and Albert 1-London 2000


Stuart Penn 2000 Victoria and Albert Museum,, London

marc quinn peter hull 2000Tom Yendell 2000


Peter Hull    Tom Yendell

Alison Lapper and Parys 2000Kiss 3 Marc Quinn


Alison Lapper and Parys                                                  The Kiss

This series culminated in Marc Quinn’s design for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square being accepted and causing much controversy.

Marc Quinn Fourth PlinthAlison Lapper Prwegnant 2005

Alison Lapper Pregnant 2005. For educational activities around this installation see:-


54 foot inflatable Alison Lapper by Marc at Venice Biennali  for an appreciation of the impact of the statue see

A counter part to Complete Marbles is Chemical Life Support(2005) for which Quinn selected people, including his own son, whose lives were dependent on medicines because of a hidden impairment. Disabled people with hidden impairment are the most difficult conditions  to portray but making them of polymer wax that looks like skin all the statues are lying on the ground in sleeping postures.

Innoscience 2004

Marc’s son had severe allergy to dairy products, which after three he was ‘Free’ of.

Chemical Life support 2005



Kate Hodgkinson-Acidal D£-Ferrous Sulphate-Methotrexate Plaquenil- Prednisolone (Lupus)

Carl Whittaker-Amiodarone–Asprin-Cicosporin (Heart Transplant)

Silvia Petretti-Sustiva-Tenofivir-3TC (HIV)

Nicholas Grogan-Insulin (Diabetes)

In Mirrors for the Blind (2005) ‘ I made portrait heads of  Anna Cannings and Bill Waltier, who had both been blind from birth. When they touched their portraits it was the first time they had ‘seen’ themselves in the way they see others with touch.’

Mirrors for the Blind MarkWaltier 2005Mirrors for the Blind Anne Cannings 2005

‘ I came across an etching in an C18th medical text book of the skeleton of Marc Cazotte who had Phocomelia, a genetic mutation condition, which can be caused by chemicals such as thalidomide. The human skeleton is such an archetypal image that to see it configured differently has a very strong effect and seems to question the idea of a ‘normal body’ in a new way.’ This relates very strongly to my marble portraits, some of which are also Phocometic persons.

Portrait of Marc Cazotte 1757-1801_2006 1


Marc Quinn Recent Works 2006 Nai Publishers: Groningeen Museum

Marc Quinn Fourth Plinth , 2006 Steidmack: Germany




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