Marc Quinn

Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
plus May, 29Sep, 29 2013

Marc Quinn

A solo show of works by the renowned British artist

curated by Germano Celant

The Giorgio Cini Foundation is delighted to announce Marc Quinn, a major exhibition which opens on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore on 29 May 2013 in tandem with the inauguration of the 55th Venice Biennale of Visual Arts. Curated by Germano Celant, the solo show includes sculptures, paintings and other art objects by one of the original Young British Artists. Admission to the exhibition is free and it runs until 29 September 2013.

Consisting of more than 50 works, including the public debut of at least 15 new works, Marc Quinn will be one of the artist’s most important exhibitions to date. In addition to reuniting Quinn and Celant, who last worked together on the exhibition Garden at the Prada Foundation, (Milan, 2000) Marc Quinn marks a return of the artist to Venice, following his 2003 show at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, The Overwhelming World of Desire, and highlights the Giorgio Cini Foundation’s growing interest in contemporary art.

“The Fondazione Giorgio Cini is principally known for its commitment to the promotion of historic art, and especially Veneto art, stated the Secretary-General Pasquale Gagliardi. “Periodically, however, it has also made crucial contributions of the highest standard to promoting contemporary art. Examples of this are the Henry Moore exhibition in 1995, or the extraordinary essays on contemporary art (collected and published last year) by Rodolfo Pallucchini, director of the Fondazione Cini Institute of Art History from 1972 to 1989 and the curator of some memorable post-war Venice Biennale art exhibitions. More recently, the Cini has staged Penelope’s Labour, an exhibition devoted to present-day tapestries and rugs. Coming a few months after the inauguration of the glass exhibition Fragile?, marking the opening of the Stanze del Vetro (Rooms for Glass) also to contemporary art, the Marc Quinn project is perfectly in line with the Fondazione Cini traditions. It also reveals the Fondazione’s propensity for at times highly provocative innovation (as was the case with the “facsimile return” of Paolo Veronese’s Wedding at Cana to the Palladian refectory).”

Marc Quinn began his career exploring issues such as the relation between art and science, the human body and its survival mechanisms, life and its preservation, and beauty and death. Quinn describes the exhibition as “an exploration of our relationships to our bodies and to the physical and cultural world around us. What it means to live in a world both real and virtual.”


The works on view include a unique site-specific installation specially adapted for the island of San Giorgio titled Evolution (2005-07). This series of ten monumental flesh-pink marble sculptures represent foetuses at different stages of gestation. Placed leading down to the edge of the water in the Squero, a former boat factory, these sculptures conjure the mystery of life that emerges from the lagoon. In another dialogue with nature, five colossal seashells in the series The Archaeology of Art seem to ask if the will to create art is an intrinsic part of nature. These perfectly symmetrical, naturally occurring forms belie a strange intelligence and seem to follow some order greater than themselves. Massive in size, yet intricate in detail, these shells are some of the largest high definition 3-D printed objects in the world, created by a computer’s digital code which reflects the biological code of DNA which created the originals. The bronze shells sculptures sit next to the sea, as almost as though they rolled in from the tides.


Also on view is a new form of the artist’s monumental work, Alison Lapper Pregnant installed in September 2005 on the fourth plinth of London’s Trafalgar Square (2005-7). Breath (2012) is a 1,100 cm inflatable version of the original, placed adjacent to the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore to welcome visitors to the Foundation. Breath was the centre piece of London’s Paralympic Games’ opening ceremony. The work seems to describe the journey of an image when it becomes part of cultural discourse something without boundaries of scale held up by the breath of those talking about it, a contingent form as much as the artists famous frozen Blood self portraits.


A large-scale aluminium sculpture, entitled The Sound of Silence (2013), is a mobile of aeroplanes and aeroplane crashes which circle overhead without ever touching. At once explosively violent yet suspended in silence, the sculpture functions as a snapshot of a muted disaster, a manifestation of one of our darkest contemporary fears yet also captivating in its hypnotic movement. Lastly, among the new works Quinn debuts in this exhibition is a new edition in his series of Flesh Paintings: a series the artist began in 2012 that explores the dualism of beauty and revulsion evoked by depicting magnified and abstracted raw, marbled meat.  The new work is a large scale, oil on canvas painting entitled The Way of All Flesh (2013) depicting the pregnant model Lara Stone juxtaposed against a background of raw a meat, underscoring the origin and the fatalism implicit in all life.


“Marc Quinn’s works are projected backwards and forwards, from birth to death. They are fluctuating images that concern the body and its flesh and the joyous registration of its contemplation, both positively and negatively. They exteriorize the internal desires and mental images of a human being who transits from one sexual condition to another and they embrace both interior and exterior life,” stated Germano Celant. “This major anthology at Fondazione Giorgio Cini intends to give context to Quinn’s most recent work and provide an understanding of his art as an art of incarnation, with priority to visual and tactile values, aimed at nature and the human being, as well as light and the retina that filters it.”


Quinn’s conceptual practice incorporates sculpture, painting, and installations. The artist’s interest in the metamorphic ability of both human life and nature points to his fascination with our innate spirituality. Quinn questions the codes of nature through his use of uncompromising materials such as ice, blood, marble, glass and lead. Through the use of such materials, Quinn’s works are at once poetic and confrontational through their exploration of life, death, sexuality and religion. Quinn transforms the act of seeing by forcing us to question what is around us, propelling us into the unknown in order to rediscover.


In tandem with Marc Quinn, a landmark publication entitled, Marc Quinn Memory Box, edited by Germano Celant, will be published on the occasion of the show by Skira. The 520-page, English-language publication will include a conversation between Quinn and Celant and historical interviews with Quinn dating back to 1994. Marc Quinn Memory Box will be available for purchase online and at the Georgio Cini Foundation for 60 Euros. For more information on Memory Box, please visit: