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New Media. Marc Quinn. Enduring Understanding. Students will understand that… the use of ready-mades and other media have created new approaches to art and expanded its definition. Essential Questions. Overarching How did technological advances affect art?

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new media

New Media

Marc Quinn

enduring understanding
Enduring Understanding

Students will understand that…

the use of ready-mades and other media

have created new approaches to art and

expanded its definition.

essential questions
Essential Questions


  • How did technological advances affect art?
  • What are the issues and concerns surrounding new

media and its representational mechanisms?


  • What is life and death?
  • How is issue of mortality be portrayed in an artwork?


8 Jan 1964 -


Sculpture with marble & other unconventional materials e.g. blood






Contemporary Art


preoccupation with the mutability of the body and the dualisms that define human life: spiritual and physical, surface and depth, cerebral and sexual.





biographical outline
Biographical Outline

1964: Born in London, Britain.

1982-85: Studied History of Art at Robinson College, Cambridge.

1980-90s: Quinn worked as an assistant to the sculptor Barry Flanagan and is considered part of the New British Artist scene which flourished in the UK

1991: Created ‘Self’, a self portrait of the artist's head fashioned from 10 pints of the artist's own blood,removed from his body over a 5 month period.


Contemporary Art

  • Art that belongs to the same period of time, as in current.
  • Refers to the present time, as in now.
  • Can also refer to being current with any specified time, as in the past.

Subject Matter

  • His Body and his Self-Portraits

Quinn turns to his own body for a range of medium to create his portraits.

  • Portraits of others.

In the late 1990s, his choice of subject matter takes a turn away from his own body for meaning and resource. He began to look at others for inspiration, especially what is different of other people, eg: disabled people.

He honours them as people of heroic

  • Flowers

Quinn has a number of works with flowers which explore the thin line between life and death.


Theme- Human Existence

  • Relationship with the body by highlighting natural vs. cultural,

eg: his Shit Paintings.

  • The thin line between life and death, eg: Eternal Spring
  • He confronts his viewers with works that compel them to think- burrowing into their own perception and understanding of “beauty and ugliness, of life and death, art and science.” (Twist, 2006).
  • His works depict a certain admiration for “the miracles of life” with optimism.

His Self and Body

Self, 1991.

Blood (artist’s), stainless steel, perspex and refrigeration equipment, 205 x 65 X 66 cm

White Cube, London

This is his most celebrated work.

An icon in its own.

what self
What- Self
  • The sculpture is a head portrait of the artist himself.
  • It is made from his own frozen blood- 5 liters of it = amount found in an adult body.
  • His blood is drawn at safe intervals.
  • Although the portrait head aligns with a tradition of the sculpted head, the material is revolutionary.
  • Blood as a medium is already charged with meaning. The bloody red colour adds to its power in evoking emotions.
  • Blood inside the body is a source of life. However, when it is outside the body, it can also conjure up associations with casualty, death, pain and suffering.
what self1
What- Self
  • The sculpture is maintained in a specially constructed freezer case.
  • This highlights the vulnerability of existence because the sculpture relies on an external source to exist.
  • Life is thus supported by a technological device.
  • Without it, life crumbles.
  • Quinn has also continued to churn out different versions of Self.
  • Another version- The Origin of Species, 1993, a title that strikes an immediate reference to Darwin’s theory of the history of mankind. This time, the sculpture is made up of coconut milk (a property that can be injected directly into blood as a form of nutrient in the case of an emergency.
what self2
What- Self
  • Another version- Rubber Soul, 1994. In this work, Quinn place a frog in a perspex copy of his head at where the most ancient part of our brain is located (in evolutionary terms).
  • The specie, a North American wood frog has the ability to freeze solid (state of hibernation) when the weather turns icy cold.
  • The work was exhibited in the Egyptology gallery of the British Museum, with the mummies. The difference is when the exhibition is over, the frog returns back to life when the sculpture is taken out from the freezer box.
  • This work addresses fundamental queries in life and death- eg: life standing still for the frog in hibernation, but returning back to life again. And existence mummified for another life.

His Self and Body

Rubber Soul, 1994.

Stainless steel, perspex,

refrigeration equipment

and frog, 208 x 63 x 63 cm


His Self and Body

Fear of Fear, 1994-95.

White Cube, London


His Self and Body

Emotional Detox, The Seven Deadly Sins II, 1995.

86 x 74X 37 cm

Collection of Groninger Museum, Groningen


His Self and Body

This work is a void polyurethane cast of

Quinn’s naked body. It is split somewhat

into half up to the neck and suspended

from the other half of the feet.

No Visible Means of Escape IV, 1996-98.

Rubber, 400 x 60 x 40 cm.

Tate Gallery, London


His Self and Body

At Last I’m Perfect, 2002.

1.2 carat yellow diamond

made with carbon

from the artist’s body

16.8 x 12.3 x 9 cm.

White Cube, London

what at last i m perfect
What- At Last I’m Perfect
  • Carbon atoms can be found in the human body. It is usually released when the human being dies through decomposition or burning.
  • Diamonds are actually carbon atoms under great heat or pressure way underneath the earth’s surface. It is a natural occurring process until recently.
  • Machines have been invented that can grow a real diamond in a laboratory, using the same heat and pressure that happens underground.
  • Quinn contacted one such lab and got them to make a diamond from atoms which had been in his body, in hair.
  • The hair is carbonized (convert into carbon) and then graphitized before using it to grow the diamond.
  • It is like a frozen self-portrait with an ironic title- since this perfection is achievable with only change and transformation that comes with death.

Part of Himself

Lucas is a portrait of his son.

his placenta was liquidized

and cast in a mould of his head.

Lucas, 2001.

Human placenta, umbilical cord, stainless steel, perspex and refrigeration equipment, 204.5 x 64 x 64 cm.


His Self

“I am interested in the material world,

in the way that human beings

anthropomorphise the material world

and sentimentalise matter.

We are really a morphology.

After all, you and I are all a matrix of matter.”

Schistosome Morphology, 1999.

dimension variable


His Self

The Etymology of Morphology, 1996.

Silvered glass, 27 x 152.5 x 152 cm.

Tate Gallery, London


What- Etymology of Morphology

  • It is a composite of body parts, made from blown and cast glass.
  • It appears that a life form has been dissolved and assembled into “mecury-like puddles.”
  • Etymology- “An account of, or the facts relating to, the formation or development of a word and its meaning; the process of tracing the history of a word.” (Oxford Talking Dictionary, 1998).
  • Morphology- “Shape, form, external structure or arrangement, esp. as an object of study or classification.” (Oxford Talking Dictionary, 1998).
  • Simplified- perhaps meaning of form or structure of a human.

The Body of Others

Jamie Gillespie, 1999.

Marble, 180 x 62 x 51 cm

White Cube, London


The Body of Others

Peter Hull, 1999.

Marble, 84 x 48 x 38 cm

White Cube, London


The Body of Others

Selma Mustajbasic, 2000.

Marble, 89 x 55 x 144.5 cm

White Cube, London


The Body of Others

Stuart Penn, 2000.

Marble (Edition of 3), 160 x 98 x 54 cm

White Cube, London


The Body of Others

Tom Yendell, 2000.

Marble (Edition of 3), 173 x 66 x 37 cm

White Cube, London


The Body of Others

Alison Lapper Pregnant, 2000

Marble (Edition of 3), 355 x 180.5 x 260 cm

White Cube, London


The Body of Others

Alison Lapper and Parys, 2000.

Marble, 83.5 x 43.5 x 62 cm

White Cube, London


The Body of Others

Kiss, 2001.

Marble, 184 x 64 x 60 cm

White Cube, London


The Body of Others

Alison Lapper Pregnant, 2005

Marble (Edition of 3), 355 x 180.5 x 260 cm

Trafalgar Square, London

what alison lapper pregnant
What- Alison Lapper Pregnant
  • Alison Lapper is a British artist in her own right.
  • She was born in 1965 without arms and shortened legs- the result of a medical condition called phocomelia.
  • She was once fitted with artificial limbs but realized that they did not actually helped them apart from making her look less disconcerting (disturbing).
  • Hence, she abandoned them and learn to live like any other person who has acquired driving license, bought a flat, graduated with first class honours degree in Fine Art and even gave birth to a son.
  • As an artist, she questions physical beauty and normality with photographs, digital imaging and painting with her mouth. She has also taken part in various British exhibitions.
what alison lapper pregnant1
What- Alison Lapper Pregnant
  • She posed nude for Quinn when she was eight and a half months pregnant.
  • It is made of Carrara marble, and mounted on the fourth plinth of London’s Trafalgar Square.
  • It stays the plinth in a period of approximately three years, from September 2005 to late 2007.
  • Trafalgar Square is home to majestic figures of a king, two generals and naval hero Lord Nelson of England.
  • The erection of Alison Lapper Pregnant sparked a critical discussion about art and the purpose of public monuments. It’s appropriateness was controversial.
trafalgar square
Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is a square at the heart of London. The name of the square commemorates The Battle of Trafalgar (1805), fought during the Napoleonic Wars. The British navy won the battle. The fleet was commanded by Horatio Nelson.

A column was erected to honour his Victory.

trafalgar square1
Trafalgar Square-

Nelson’s Column


The Body of Others

Sphinx, 2005

Painted Bronze, 88 x 65 x 50 cm

White Cube, London

what sphinx
What- Sphinx
  • Sphinx- A hybrid monster in Greek mythology that has a woman’s head and a lion’s body with wings. In Egypt, the monumental statue of a human’s head with a lion’s body.
  • Sphinx is also used to describe someone who is enigmatic and mysterious
  • The source for this sculpture is an image of Kate Moss.
  • An interesting thing observed by Quinn on Kate Moss is that she never gives interviews.
  • Hence, any knowledge of the model is shaped by society’s collective desire and outside influences.
  • As a result, her “self” is one that is imposed by the public.
what sphinx1
What- Sphinx
  • The sculpture thus questions “when does an object becomes an image of itself?”
  • The body of Moss is contorted into a yoga-like pose, evoking the image of an Indian sculpture of Shiva.
  • It is liken to her being sculpted by society’s collective desire and contorted by outside influences.


Eternal Spring , 1998

Stainless steel, glass, frozen silicone oil, sunflowers and refrigeration equipment

219.7 x 90 x 90 cm



Garden, 2000

Refrigeration room, stainless steel, acrylic tank, heated glass, mirrors,

320 x 1270 x 543 cm


What- Eternal Spring

  • It is like a walk-in refrigerator spanning twelve metres long.
  • It is filled with flowers, plants and bushes.
  • There are more than one hundred species from all over the world. They bloom at different seasons. It is not possible to find them all in the natural setting.
  • They are kept in stainless steel tanks, submerged in silicone oil and refrigerated.
  • It presents a quality of dream or hallucination with the range of colours, shapes and beauty.
  • The fine line between life and death presents itself as if in another dimension, like walking into an uncovered lost paradise.
  • It questions when an object has turned into an image in itself, whether if it is alive or dead becomes immaterial.


It is an orchid called

Paphiopedilum Winston Churchill.

The Overwhelming World of Desire, 2003

Stainless steel, permanent pigment, UV-filtered mositure, cured polyurethene varnish, 1215 x 555 x 16 cm


What- The Overwhelming World of Desire

  • The sculpture takes after the orchid flower called Paphiopedilum Winston Churchill.
  • It is an artificial hybrid, and in the world of orchids, the artificial varieties outnumber the natural ones.
  • What this work suggests is that humanity has taken over orchid and changed its characteristics.
  • However, it can also be interpreted contrarily that the orchid is a success story in evolutionary terms. It is one of the world’s oldest flower and its popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries shows a power to attract not only insects but humans altogether.
  • Its size is Jurassic and towers over architecture and trees, overwhelming humanity.

His Background- His Early Years

  • Quinn’s career started with a succession of portraits relating to history or art history- eg: Young Dancer. Aged 14, 1988 which was after a work by Edgar Degas.
  • There was a period of time when he struggled with alcoholism in the 80s- portrayed in his lead series, Fear of Fear, 1994-95.
  • In the late 1990s, his works began to take a radical turn. It developed in two directions- 1) He began working with flowers as subject matter and 2) He started to use the body of others as a source of inspiration.
  • He admitted to being inspired by the incomplete sculptures with missing limbs when walking through the ancient classical sculpture gallery. He quickly questioned himself how would audience react to living beings of similar forms.

His Thoughts as quoted;

“What’s interesting to me is when matterbecomes alive. In a way it’s the opposite of death, where somebody dies, they go wherever they go and you don’t know. In the beginning you’ve got the sperm and the egg and suddenly, nine months later, there’s a human being. That evolution of life from matter is what I’ve always found fascinating.”

  • Quinn has a curious choice of materials- eg: blood, human placenta, excrement, frog, red wine, coconut milk and many other unconventional materials.
  • His materials are composite of both the form and content of his artwork.
  • He does not romanticize his subject matter.
  • For his marble works, he uses the technique of carving.


  • Marble-

It is a metamorphic rock- transformed from limestone under heat and pressure. Unlike other stones, marble has a slightly translucent surface which is comparable to human skin. The material is commonly used during ancient classical period, to commemorate heroes. They are carved with mallet and chisels, and polished to a smooth finishing.

  • Silicone Oil-

Ideal for preserving his works, eg:- his self and flower series. It remains liquid down to - 80° C. Quinn refrigerate it in - 20° C. The substance is also used for breast implants. The flowers die in contact with the liquid but do not present an sign of decomposition, as long as the oil is refrigerated.

  • Van der Zjipp, S., Quinn, M. & Mengham, R. (2006) Marc Quinn: Recent Werk. Recent Sculpture. Nai Publishers: Rotterdam.
  • Eccher, D. & Boliva, AB., Curator. (2006) Marc Quinn. Mondadori Electa S.p.A.: Milano