A recycling website asks, “Is using human blood for a sculpture the ultimate in recycling or is it going too far?” That’s actually only the beginning of the questions I would have regarding the behavior of British artist Marc Quinn. Two decades ago, he discovered that human blood is a high-quality sculpting material, and since has been taking large quantities from his body and using it to create self-replicas:
Marc Quinn created his first self-portrait in 1991 when he was only 27 years old. Over the course of almost a year, he drew 4.5 liters (9.5 pints) of his own blood and used it to create a sculpture of his head. The blood needs to be frozen, otherwise the sculpture will melt. The bold statement behind the sculpture — namely that any material can be used — catapulted Quinn to art world stardom in the early ’90s and he became a representative of the Brit Art movement.
The 2006 “Self” (below) was purchased by the U.K.’s National Portrait Gallery for more than $465,000 (£300,000). Gallery director Sandy Nairne said, “Quinn’s ‘Self’ is an outstanding acquisition — a major icon of contemporary British art, both startling and revealing.”