marc quinn is a shit artist


after some recent events, I thought it would be helpful to make a list of the things Marc Quinn has done that just don’t sit right with me. He’s a Big Artist who continues to operate above criticism, who continues to make bank, who continues to be shown internationally, and who continues to make exploitative art which i can only assume he fucking delights in given his track record.

  • The content of his artwork just always has a vampiric documentarian approach. Look at these plebs, look at these women and their crotches and their pregnant bodies, look at these Black people and their urbanness, and enjoy these refugees, take a look at their blood. If there is any merit to representational politics, I think it has set a standard that people should represent themselves instead of being portrayed by rich white men who see anyone Other as interesting material for their next project. Speaking of -

  • When the Edward Colston statue was pulled off its plinth in 2020, I beg you tell me why it was white man Marc Quinn who made a sculpture of one of the protestors, Jen Reid, to replace it. The imagery was taken from content he saw on Instagram (remember that for later). Quinn should have used his fortune to fund a Black artist to make something instead of continuing to platform himself.

  • Marc Quinn has an unknown number of naked bronze sculptures of Jenny Bastet who has asked for them to be declared, shown to her, and ultimately destroyed. But instead of destroying such intimate imagery of someone else who has asked for that to happen, Marc Quinn has resisted a traumatising legal battle and destroyed a handful of non-nude artworks made of Jenny instead. As Jenny says on her Instagram, ‘if Marc Quinn had a naked picture of me that he was showing without my full consent his actions would be considered as revenge porn and he could be prosecuted’ but because they are art, the rules are different. And that’s bullshit. Keeping these works is a disgusting show of power.

When this issue was initially raised in 2020, his own staff came forward with the following statement in solidarity with Jenny:

‘In a statement justifying his imposition of one of his sculptures on the empty plinth formerly occupied by Edward Colton in Bristol, Marc Quinn quoted Desmond Tutu stating: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”. We are a group of former employees of Marc Quinn’s studio who stand in solidarity with his former partner Jenny Bastet. We support Jenny’s account of Quinn’s actions during the process and aftermath of making the series of sculptures titled “All About Love” and oppose Quinn’s response in a Daily Mail article which implies that Jenny’s concerns about the work and her role within it were raised only after their relationship had ended. The sculptures in question are a series of life casts of Jenny’s fully nude body with Quinn’s disembodied arms reaching around her from behind. Throughout the process of manufacturing the sculptures, a number of us witnessed Jenny stating clearly and frequently to Quinn her objections in having to adopt many of his choices of intimate poses, as well as the discomfort she experienced undergoing the arduous life casting process. When the casts were completed, Jenny was visibly distressed at how many of them had turned out and extremely anxious in the knowledge that they were to go on public display. Whilst the manufacture of the final sculptures were being completed, we became aware that Quinn and his most senior member of staff had spoken words to the effect of needing to keep Bastet on side until the exhibition had opened. We are not aware of the details of the legal agreements made between Bastet and Quinn. We were not privy to the full nature and details of their personal relationship. We can only speak to our own perceptions of their relationship at the time of the sculptures being made, which in our opinion was characterised by an imbalance of power through which Quinn was able to coerce Bastet into situations which were against her own instincts and better judgements. At the time, we deferred to Jenny’s fuller knowledge of the situation and her personal agency in handling it as she saw best. We would like to further add that in our opinion, Marc Quinn’s behaviour in this situation is typical of both his personal character and his approach to making art which is often extremely cynical and at odds with his own public statements. Quinn has repeatedly appropriated the identities and struggles of marginalised peoples to create works which he claims to support or wishes to engage with. The reality is that this commitment is an entirely superficial one. His true concerns, made evident to us in his day- to-day words and actions, are in maintaining his public profile and increasing his personal wealth.

A group of former employees of Marc Quinn’s studio This statement is made with the consent of Jenny Bastet’

The legal challenge is over at this point but it is haunting that the sculptures are allegedly still in Marc Quinn’s possession.

  • And finally, his latest art-making takes a leaf out of Richard Prince’s book. He has pulled screenshots from Instagram and is now sharing the work and the imagery of popular creators and influencers without their permission. It’s the same shit as before. Take the interesting qualities of somebody else, because you have nothing interesting of your own, and put them in a gallery as if they belong to you and only you. One of these pieces has a shot of Amanda Gorman reading her poem at Joe Biden’s inauguration. More Black people as content. But you know, it’s fine, because he has splashed a bit of paint over top. Britney’s on there. A Ukrainian woman and her newborn baby. Relatively smaller names too, musician Jazmine Bean for ex., but whether small or big, it’s still a transparently shitty and empty practice. These images are currently up at the 2022 Venice Biennale. How embarrassing for him and how upsetting for everybody else.