Marc Quinn, “Self” (1991)

Here’s a nice newspaper piece on the Quinn sculpture: SELF

More images of versions of SELF and examples of Quinn’s other sculptures:

Marc Quinn

And here’s you folks on Quinn and “prayerfulness” :

“ In our group the impressions of the sculpture were very mixed. So, as to whether or not we would agree with our classmates description of it as “prayerful” was debated. Although we all agreed that prayerful would definitely not be the way we would have first come to describe the peace, some could see this as true more than others. A couple members of our group spoke up and said that they felt that the facial expression looked peaceful. However, others, like myself, had an impression opposite to this. We, on the other hand, saw, instead of peace, a face that was expressing sorrow. I told my group that the expression combined with the dark red of the blood used in the production could only allow me to see it in this darker light. So perhaps we agreed more than we had first thought with our classmate. For whether engaging in prayer of the peaceful meditation form or of one more desperate, this man portrayed could possibly be described as “prayerful” after all.”

“The expression of the self portrait seems to be prayerful due to his facial features. The man’s eyes and mouth was closed, as if he was actually praying and he seems to be at peace with the world. Also, you could take into consideration the biblical reference of blood which makes it prayerful as well.”

“-blood, death-pray for people who die
-eyes are closed looks like he is praying
-blood is symbolic and used in countless rituals and cults as a means of prayer
-looks peaceful…even though he is made of blood
-in a state of grace because when you’re in prayer you are in a state of grace
-blue so its peaceful”

“We found this piece to be prayerful because of many reasons. First, its upward tilt of the head implies that the man was praying on higher things as he was making the mold. Also, the peaceful smile gives off an inner peace inside the piece, which gives off the image of prayer. Even the colors of the head give off a prayerful inner conflict. The contrast between the black and red represents the difference of ideas that he might be having.”

“He looks peaceful in his bust. We think that this makes him look like he is in prayer. The fact that it is made of blood shows that he is still living almost like immortality. Since this is him – literally, since this is his blood – he could be considered as “living” forever. He looks like he could be in prayer in this bust because of the peace on his face. He also kind of has a smirk on his face like he really is in prayer – having an actual conversation with God.”

“We don’t think that this sculpture is prayerful. When we look at it, prayer isn’t the first word that would come to mind. We all find it pretty disgusting actually.
One thinks that people would freak out so bad that they would pray.
Some of us think of prayer as peaceful, and when we look at that, it’s not what we think.
You could also say that it’s prayerful because you’re praying for him.
I think that we have all come to the conclusion that this sculpture is not prayerful, one because we don’t fully understand the definition of the word prayerful, but from the definitions that we have come up with, this sculpture does not fulfill them.
We also said that, it depends on the person that is looking at it, and what their personal definition of prayerful is. “


About jchall1960

I'm the instructor for FA 200, Introduction to the Arts at the University of Alabama
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3 Responses to Marc Quinn, “Self” (1991)

  1. mdetter says:

    It’s interesting to see more of Quinn’s work. He tends to stick to representing the form of humans in his artwork, whether that be mortal or immortal. I really liked his sculpture titled “planet”. The baby looks peaceful and I like the contrast of the all white sculpture to its nature surroundings. The newspaper article was shocking to read. I am in complete awe that people would actually purchase his artworks titled “self”, I personally would be a little creeped out to know that I owned someone else’s bloody head. Not to mention, I would not want to have to clean it up if the power were to go out and kill the freezer.

  2. I loved his piece that we saw during class, so it is interesting seeing his other works of art. It is such a strange and wacky concept, but at the same time is genius and inspiring to its observers.

  3. sbusby2015 says:

    The piece we saw during class was very different than any other piece of art that I have ever seen. At first it scared me completely, but then learning about it being his own blood I don’t it just kind of changed the way I looked at it. It still creeped me out don’t get me wrong, but it simply made more sense. However, alot of his other pieces were a little disturbing to me. They make me think of death and things like that.

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