I want to introduce you to one of my favourite sculptors...
A few years ago whilst working in NYC I went to the Mary Boone Gallery to see some life-sized sculptures of Kate Moss doing yoga, as you do.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, I hadn’t heard of Marc Quinn till then and the premise sounded a bit sensationalist. What I actually found on the other hand were these amazing rather serene, beautiful, soft angular contorted sculptures. They seemed strange but familiar. Strange because the shapes of the body were pretty spectacular and familiar because the face was so recognisable.
“She is a contemporary version of the Sphinx. A mystery. There must be something about her that has clicked with the collective unconscious to make her so ubiquitous, so spirit of the age.
It’s a portrait of an image, and the way that image is sculpted and twisted by our collective desire.
I found a person who could do the yoga pose…and we made a lot of drawings, photographs and measurements. Then Kate came into the studio. I’d done some life casts of her in the past, and we made more measurements and photos. From all that we sculpted Kate’s body in the pose; this is her body and her proportions.” – Marc Quinn in an interview with The Guardian 2006.
The size of the artwork came as a surprise, I knew they were life size sculptures but up close and life size feels very different. The sculptures were raised on plinths to eye level so at times you were face to face with Kate whilst she peered through her legs, her head near her groin. They were strange and beautiful at the same time, a combination I seem to be continually drawn to (I like a lot of Damien Hirst's work and the Saatchi Gallery is one of my favourites (just after the National Portrait Gallery which is top)).
Visiting the Mary Boone Gallery that day came at the perfect time; I had been feeling lost and uncreative but left the space feeling as though a little part of my creative brain had been prised open. 7 years on and that exhibition has stayed with me, it far outweighed anything I saw at MoMA a few days later.
I now have the exhibition card of Kate Moss casual gazing through her legs (above) on my desk, everyone asks about it. I work a lot in the digital world and the card reminds me that the internet is not always the best source for inspiration. I could only feel what I did from being in that space and experiencing the size and 360 degree viewpoint - you just can’t get that from a picture on a screen. It reminds me that I need to get away from the screen and physically go to galleries and exhibitions, I need to make that effort more often, as you never know what may pique your creativity.
What I didn’t realise when I visited the NYC exhibition was that I had seen and been intrigued by several of Marc Quinn's sculptures already; 'Self' (a continuous piece), 'Portrait of John E. Sulston' 2001 and the wonderful statue ‘Alison Lapper Pregnant’ which sat on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth in 2005.
Recently Quinn's work was shown on the Alexander McQueen catwalk for Spring/Summer 15. His huge beautiful floral structures were exactly right for the bran's aesthetic - what I would have given to see that!
'Prehistory of Desire' 2010 & 'Etymology of Desire' 2010, on the catwalk at Paris Fashion week September 2014 for S/S15 - images from @WorldMcQueen Twitter
I also would love to see his open-air exhibitions where the sculptures are housed in manicured gardens. My eyes are peeled for upcoming exhibitions...