Quinn was born in London. He first learned to cast in bronze in 1983, while working as an assistant to Barry Flanagan. He graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. His first solo show was held in 1988 at the Jay Jopling/Otis Gallery, London. He was selected for the Sydney Biennale in 1992, and was represented in Young British Artists II at the Saatchi Gallery in 1993, and Time Machine at the British Museum in 1994. He participated in Thinking Print at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1996 and Sensation at the Royal Academy, London in 1997. He had a solo show at the South London Gallery, Camberwell, London in 1998.
Quinn is often associated with Damien Hirst as one of the founding figures of the 1990s British contemporary art movement. Self (1991, Saatchi Collection, London), a self-portrait head made from his own frozen blood, was first exhibited in 1991 at the Jay Jopling/Grob Gallery and then at the Saatchi Gallery in 1992. At the Tate Gallery in 1995, the artist showed Emotional Detox: The Seven Deadly Sins, a group of seven lead casts of parts of his body which were made using the lost wax method. The pieces are reminiscent of the 'character heads' made by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt in the late eighteenth century. Quinn prefers to use his own body as a primary source, as it is free from the associations of implied relationships: 'the self is what one knows best and least at the same time ... casting the body gives one an opportunity to "see" the self' (conversation with Sean Rainbird, Tate Gallery, 1995).
Sarah Kent, Shark Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the 90s, London 1994, pp.73-6
Sean Rainbird, Marc Quinn: Emotional Detox, Art Now broadsheet, Tate Gallery 1995
Marc Quinn (born 8 January 1964) is a British contemporary visual artist whose work includes sculpture, installation and painting. Quinn explores 'what it is to be human in the world today' through subjects including the body, genetics, identity, environment and the media. His work has used materials that vary widely, from blood, bread and flowers, to marble and stainless steel. Quinn has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Sir John Soane's Museum, Tate, National Portrait Gallery, Fondation Beyeler, Fondazione Prada and South London Gallery. The artist was a notable member of the Young British Artists movement.
Quinn is internationally celebrated and was awarded the commission for the first edition of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2004, for which he exhibited Alison Lapper Pregnant. Quinn's notorious frozen self-portrait series made of his own blood, Self (1991–present) was subject to a retrospective at Fondation Beyeler in 2009.
Quinn lives and works in London.