Marc Quinn is just like any other artist who explores the notion of self through portraiture. However, he has a much more unexpected and some might say squeamish twist when it comes to this specific genre. Back in 1991, Quinn began to use his body a raw materials for his sculpture titled Self. He made a cast of his own head and filled it with 10 pints of his blood immersed in frozen silicone. To keep the piece in a solid state, its temperature is maintained at -18°C.
Self portraits are a way for an artist to capture, explain and sometimes work through a period in their life, whether good or bad. Quinn’s sculpture series, Self, functions in the same way. His first creation was during the period of the artist’s life when he was an alcoholic, and dependency is a theme in both the making and maintaining of the piece. Quinn wrote, “Of things needing to be plugged in or connected to something to survive, is apparent since the work needs electricity to retain its frozen appearance.” Without electricity, the sculptures would melt. He created a new Self sculpture every five years for 20 years demonstrating how life changes and how we seek to find meaning in it during our short time on Earth.
Quinn views his Self sculptures as a “direct” form of an artist's statement. “It depends on my life to be created, it’s made from the substance of me; and so I think of it as the purest form of sculpture to sculpt your own body, from your own body.”