A head made of blood, a gold statue of Kate Moss: What's next for Marc Quinn?

Updated 15th July 2015
"Siren" by British artist Marc Quinn at the opening of the "Statuephilia: Contemporary Sculptors at the British Museum" exhibition.
Credit: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images
A head made of blood, a gold statue of Kate Moss: What's next for Marc Quinn?
Written by Fiona Sinclair Scott, CNNLondon
Twenty-five years ago Marc Quinn made a cast of his head from eight pints of his own frozen blood. It's the sort of thing that attracts attention. He soon joined the loose association of emerging "Young British Artists" -- like Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst -- known for their provocative and, at the time, shocking artworks.
In the intervening period Quinn has amassed a body of work that is often preoccupied with the body itself, including "Siren" -- a solid gold sculpture of British supermodel Kate Moss; "Alison Lapper Pregnant" a fifteen-ton marble statue of the heavily pregnant and disabled Alison Lapper; and "Planet" an gigantic sculpture of a new-born baby.
Now Quinn is set to reveal two new works in a show entitled "The Toxic Sublime" at London's White Cube Bermondsey -- his first exhibit at the gallery in five years.
Back when he started out, Instagram would have seemed as bizarre a concept as the artist's own cryogenically frozen garden, but like many creatives today Quinn has adopted the social media platform with an almost compulsive enthusiasm.
So, on the eve of his latest show, Quinn shares with CNN Style the top shots from his popular feed (@marcquinnart), giving us an intimate take on his creative process.

Bathroom sink

"I was in my bathroom at home on a sunny afternoon. The sun came in and hit the edge of a piece of mirror. The mirror became a prism and projected a rainbow across the sink. I put my arm into it. It is beautiful to see the strength of the colours as they hit the texture of my skin and it seemed to be a lovely found metaphor for what I think an artist should be which is someone creating work from their experience of the real world."

Buster & Jet

"My two most loyal assistants Buster and Jet helping me paint in the yard of the studio. Before the paintings have finished, any texture only enriches them. There some dog prints somewhere on these paintings. All I do is throw a ball across the painting and they run across it. I like to work with my friends and family around and that includes these two - the youngest members of the family."

Baby hand

"I am always interested in scale as a medium, in other words by making something bigger you alter its content - the meaning as well as its shape. Many of the new works in my show "The Toxic Sublime", originated as hand held fragments of shell but when blown up to 7.5 metres and cast in stainless steel, they become something else, like the experience of a wave in the ocean or a rock formation or a primordial creature from the deep. We have all lived through scale transformation, as this photograph shows. Perhaps that is why it is such an effective transformation."


"For every idea which gets created, there are many others that don't. Here I am experimenting with trying to take a picture of birds in flight in a field in Britain with a hugely powerful flash, and a telephoto lens. I am not quite sure what will happen with these pictures, maybe they will sit in a drawer for 20 years or maybe next week I will think of a way to use them in a sculpture or painting. It is the way of being an artist to create a library of images that I can refer back to."

Claude Monet

"A photograph of me painting some of my new works from the "The Toxic Sublime" series in my back yard. I took a photograph of the sunrise over the ocean, printed it onto canvas and then using spray paint I layered colour onto it, spraying through things I found on beaches around the world. I then took the canvasses onto London streets and abrade the textures of manhole covers to do with water into the surface of the painting, creating a kind of palimpsest, where the viewer seems to look at nature through the screen of the city. Stuck on metal, these pictures are then distressed, bashed, smashed and crushed until they resemble a debris of our industrial culture. I love to paint them outside, feeling like Claude Monet with his easel, painting a steam train crossing a railway bridge - the Toxic Sublime of his era."

Exhibition preview: "The Toxic Sublime"

"The Toxic Sublime", a new exhibition at London's White Cube Bermondsey, includes two new bodies of work and is the culmination of two years of investigation into natural phenomena and our distanced and complex relationship with the environment.