The new Marc Quinn exhibition at the Sir John Soane’s Museum is a rare treat. It merges contemporary art with one of the finest house museum settings in the world. The installation is spectacular especially when viewed in the glorious Spring sunshine. ‘Drawn from Life,’ is an exhibition of cast fragmentary sculptures, made in collaboration with his partner, a dancer. The works are placed among the multiple antique casts and sculptures that fill the museum. The new work takes the iconographic language of the historical artefact and reveals its resonance with contemporary life. Quinn has long been inspired by Sir John Soane’s collection of historic fragments and ‘Drawn from Life’ will explore Quinn’s fascination with the subject and give insight into the artist’s affinity with Soane’s aesthetic and interests.
“My new body of work explores the notion of the fragment and set in the extraordinary surroundings” – Marc Quinn
This also gives the public a chance to see all of the meticulous renovations that have taken place in the museum over the last seven years. Soane wanted his collection to inspire creativity and curiosity and Quinn is the first of a number of leading artists, designers and architects invited to embrace this spirit and engage with the collection for major projects.
Sir John Soane’s Museum is a natural fit for Marc Quinn’s new series as he shares Soane’s affinity with collecting: his own practice draws from the ephemera, diverse artworks and objects with which he fills his studio. Quinn has also been inspired by the vast number of fragments on display in the Museum. The fragmentary forms in the collection, some from ancient sculpture, are integrally ambiguous, demonstrating both destruction and the passage of time, whilst showing the potential for completeness. Quinn’s series of new works make direct reference to classical sculpture and the disembodied body parts appear to be ambiguously loving, fighting, holding or supporting.
‘Drawn from Life,’ is created from life casts and fabricated in fibreglass, ‘Drawn from Life’ continues the conversation Quinn’s practice has with art of the classical world. From Self (1991) through to his marble sculptures such as The Complete Marbles (1999 – 2005) and Alison Lapper Pregnant (2005), Quinn’s work has found a new way to understand the contemporary world through a refraction of the art of the past. Simultaneously rough and elegant, contemporary and classical, the sculptures demonstrate how the language of the classical fragment can be taken to reflect the present. Shown amongst Soane’s existing collection, the distinction between past and present, classical and contemporary, art and artefact will be blurred.
Bruce Boucher, Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum says; ‘The completion of our seven-year restoration has enabled us to undertake new and exciting projects and collaborations, such as this exhibition. Soane wanted his astonishing collection to inspire, and its breadth and depth mean that it appeals as much to a contemporary artist, as an architectural historian or the curious first-time visitor. We’re delighted that Marc Quinn will present ‘Drawn from Life’, making him the first of a number of contemporary creatives invited to engage with this remarkable collection in their own very personal way.’
Marc Quinn says; ‘My new body of work explores the notion of the fragment and set in the extraordinary surroundings of Sir John Soane’s Museum, their reflecting of history will be particularly apparent. These sculptures build on my longstanding interest in refracting the language of classical art to make it relevant to contemporary culture. I’m thrilled to unveil the new work in such a unique and important setting.’
Opening up the Soane was a seven-year programme of restoration, which began on-site in 2011 after a successful major fundraising campaign. The completion of the third and final phase has re-created a number of key ‘lost’ spaces in the museum and opened them up to visitors for the first time.
Marc Quinn (British, born 1964) is considered one of the leading artists of his generation. Quinn first came to prominence in the early 1990s, when he and several peers redefined what it was to make and experience contemporary art. He has exhibited widely for over twenty-five years, including solo exhibitions at Somerset House, London (2015); the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, (2014); Giorgio Cini Foundation, Venice (2013); Musée Océanographique de Monaco (2012); Beyeler Foundation (2009); the National Portrait Gallery (2009); the Tate Liverpool (2002); and Fondazione Prada, Milan (2000). Recent group exhibitions include From Hockney to Holbein, The Würth Collection in Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2016); Bad Thoughts – Collection Martijn and Jeannette Sanders, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2015); Works from the YAGEO Foundation Collection, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2014). In 2005 Quinn was awarded the inaugural commission for The Fourth Plinth, in Trafalgar Square, London.
Photos: P C Robinson © Artlyst 2017
Marc Quinn: Drawn from Life 28 March – 23 September 2017 Sir John Soane’s Museum London