Marc Quinn

The ideal and the reality explored by Marc Quinn retrospective at Tate Liverpool

The exhibition features works made from Carrara marble and placenta


Quinn (38) is one of Britain’s most interesting artists, with strong ideas executed in a visually fascinating manner. Christoph Grunenberg only took over at Liverpool Tate in March last year, but has managed to put together this large retrospective (1 February-21 April), full of new work and with hundreds of drawings, some abstract, some figurative and beautiful. The centrepiece harks back to Quinn’s 1991 frozen cast of his own head in his own blood and is a frozen sculpture of his baby’s head in whizzed up placenta. Trapping reality in frozen animation is one of his techniques (flowers for example), and he also works on the conventions of the physical ideal. He has dead white sculptures made in Carrara marble (Canova’s material for the lovely Three Graces), but Quinn’s are are real people, who have are missing limbs (below). There will be two of these at the Tate and three also in the celebrated Sculpture Gallery at the Walker (8 February-28 April), where, as at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2000, the shocking encounter with the classical and neo-Classical nude can be thoroughly appreciated. Quinn, who is clearly intrigued by the essential material of life has executed a portrait of Sir John Thulston, a leading contributor to the Human Genome Project, for the National Portrait Gallery which is based on a sample of Sir John’s DNA.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'What's on? Marc Quinn'