Marc Quinn - Contemporary Art Day London Friday, February 12, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Belgium

  • Catalogue Essay

    Marc Quinn first came to prominence as one of the YBAs in the late 1980s with the present figures of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Modelled in dough, then baked in the oven and cast in bronze, the two busts are an imposing yet fragile-looking representation of the last king and queen of the Old Regime. The dough changes shape once it is baked and the baking process takes control away from the creator, which gives the sculptures an autonomous quality. The use of dough to model the figures foreshadows Quinn’s future experimentations with media as varied and innovative as blood, ice, glass, marble and lead. However, Quinn’s groundbreaking use of unconventional media is combined with a perfect understanding of traditional sculptural form and techniques – in the present lot, the shape of the 18thcentury bust – which he mastered during his training years as an assistant to Barry Flanagan.
    The interplay between tradition and unconventional disciplines can also be found in Quinn’s later works such as a marble series that represents amputees. For these, Quinn used polished Italian marble, a medium of classical sculpture, to highlight the mutability of the body which in turn references the varied perceptions of humanity. In his self-portrait made of blood (Self), or his wax and lead sculptures reminiscent of écorchés, or the frozen silicone garden of flowers he did for the Prada Foundation, Quinn always brings us back to the theme of life and death, man’s physical and psychological boundaries, and the paradoxes inherent in human experience.
    Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette are seminal sculptures from Quinn’s oeuvre – their innovative medium and technique emphasize the transient, everchanging nature of the body and human life, a subject which later came to define Quinn’s practice.
    “I think it’s very important to remember that we exist in the fourth dimension of time. In a way I was thinking of this with the bread sculpture of Marie Antoinette (1989) and Louis XVI (1989). They are kind of blurred, turning into mud or digesting themselves. We can hardly know ourselves, so how can we know what someone was like who lived two hundred years ago? They are about the impossibility of representation. Then with a frozen flower, when you freeze it, you kill it biologically and it becomes a pure eternal image. So in a way you are defeating the problem of history, but at the expense of life in the present.”
    (Marc Quinn in conversation with Germano Celant, exhibition catalogue, Fondazione Prada, Marc Quinn, Milan, 2000)


Two works: (i) Louis XVI; (ii) Marie-Antoinette

Bronze-cast baked dough.
(i) 76 × 65 × 46 cm (29 7/8 × 25 5/8 × 18 1/8 in); (ii) 123 × 49 × 34 cm (48 1/2 × 19 1/4 × 13 3/8 in).
These works are from an edition of six.

£50,000 - 70,000 

Contemporary Art Day

13 Feb 2010