Art Fund supports National Portrait Gallery appeal for Marc Quinn's 'Blood Head'

  • 2 October 2008

The Art Fund has kick-started an appeal by The National Portrait Gallery to raise funds for the acquisition of Self, a self-portrait cast of artist Marc Quinn's head made in 2006 from his own blood and then frozen. The Art Fund has given a grant of £100,000 towards the purchase; the Gallery has until December 31 in which to raise a total amount of £350,000.

The Art Fund has kick-started an appeal by The National Portrait Gallery to raise funds for the acquisition of Self, a self-portrait cast of artist Marc Quinn’s head made in 2006 from his own blood and then frozen. The Art Fund has given a grant of £100,000 towards the purchase; the Gallery has until December 31 in which to raise a total amount of £350,000.

Unconventional, innovative and challenging, the ‘blood head’ known as Self is one of Quinn’s most important and influential works, one which has become an enduring image of the Brit Art movement. The first ‘blood head’ was made in 1991 and shown in the Royal Academy’s Sensation exhibition. Since then the artist has made a new cast every five years, documenting his own transformation and ageing. This would be the only cast of Self to join a British public collection as the three earlier blood heads are all in collections overseas. The Gallery wants to display the latest in the series in London, as a key work in its contemporary collection and as a way of engaging with issues of representation of the human figure in contemporary culture. The Gallery has an extensive collection of artists’ self-portraits made over the past 500 years.

The work is designed so that it can be melted, recast and refrozen when it has to be moved. Because it is the fourth in the series, extensive experience exists in the care, conservation and display of such media and the Gallery has examined the technical issues thoroughly.

Self is on offer to the Gallery, through the White Cube Gallery, at a special price of £350,000. The Gallery has found £50,000 from its own resources and, after The Art Fund’s grant, needs to raise the remaining £200,000.

Emerging from the Young British Artists movement, Marc Quinn is an artist whose work raises many questions about identity and the nature of portraiture, questions which go close to the heart of the work of the National Portrait Gallery. He is already represented in the Collection by his DNA portrait of the Nobel-prize-winning Human Genome scientist, Sir John Sulston, commissioned by the Gallery, in collaboration with the Wellcome Foundation, in 2001.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, the UK’s leading independent art charity, says: ‘One of the star exhibits at Sensation, Self confirmed Marc Quinn’s reputation as one of the most innovative artists of his generation. This extraordinary self-portrait belongs in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection, and I hope that others will follow our lead in showing their support for this powerful work.’

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Marc Quinn’s Self is a work of international significance – a brilliant and poignant extension to the genre of self-portraiture.’

To make a donation, please go to www.npg.org.uk

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Self
by Marc Quinn, 2006
© Marc Quinn

The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art.  It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members.  Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections. 

Recent achievements include:  helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; putting together a unique funding package to ensure Dumfries House in Ayrshire and its contents were secured intact for the nation in July 2007; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK. 

For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit www.artfund.org