Marc Quinn

The Etymology of Morphology

1996

Medium
Glass
Dimensions
Displayed: 270 x 1525 x 1520 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1997
Reference
T07239

Summary

This work, which is designed to be displayed on the floor, is a multi-part floor sculpture in blown and cast glass. The glass is silvered on the inside and suggests a life-sized figure which has dissolved in or is being assembled from mercury-like puddles. A head, hand and penis remain recognisable among the otherwise biomorphic shapes. The body parts were cast from Quinn's body. The glass was blown in Murano, Italy, with Quinn controlling the process. The piece suggests transformation, but less radically than in some of the artist's earlier works such as Self (1991, Saatchi Collection, London), Quinn's self-portrait sculpture in his own blood.

In relation to this work, Quinn has referred to the idea of creating solid form from breath through the use of blown glass. The glass itself gives the impression of a liquid and solid presence simultaneously. This sculpture exhibits a multitude of reflective surfaces and is therefore difficult to see as a fixed entity. Quinn has commented on his fascination for mirrors, for example those at Versailles, and his curiosity about the events which they have witnessed and of which they have no memory.

Further reading:
Sarah Kent, Shark Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the 90s, London 1994, pp.73-6

Terry Riggs
October 1997

Display caption

Several body parts are recognisable in this piece, which is made from blown
and cast glass, silvered on the inside.
It suggests a life-sized figure which has dissolved into, or is being assembled from, mercury-like puddles.

 

Quinn's title suggests an analysis of the relationship between form and meaning: 'etymology' is the study of the way words develop, while 'morphology' is the study of the forms of things.

 

Gallery label, August 2004