The present work was executed during a particularly significant year within the artist’s career. In 2008 Quinn’s series depicting Kate Moss garnered international recognition and widespread acclaim when a sculpture of the supermodel entitled Siren was displayed at the British Museum in London, precipitating a striking sensation both in the art world and in global print media. The sculpture, depicting the model in a contorted yoga pose, was carved out of 10 kilograms of 18-carat gold, and was subsequently hailed in media as the largest gold statue ever created since the time of the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt. Song of the Siren undoubtedly mirrors this public installation of Siren, yet the present work ultimately offers a more intimate and expressive portrait of the model through the artist’s highly detailed and intricate carving solely of her face. By virtue of such exquisite technique, Quinn manifests “a portrait of Kate Moss’s image, not of herself. An interesting thing about Kate Moss is that, because she never gives interviews, she’s almost purely ubiquitous image…It also seems to symbolise that Kate’s image is sculpted by society’s collective desire, contorted by outside influences. She is the reflection of ourselves, a knotted Venus for our age, a mirror, a mystery…” (Marc Quinn cited in: Ibid., n.p.)
Through his sculptures of Kate Moss, Quinn idealises, idolises and immortalises the female body as a timeless, deified entity. The present work is deeply alluring; both power and grace emanate from its gold surface, the colour of which has profound significance to the artist: “Gold is a metal that humans have decided is one of the most valuable metals in the world, but like their invented images of perfection, gold itself is a belief system – inherently no more valuable than any other metal” (Marc Quinn, ‘Artworks – Siren’, artist’s website, online). By casting the present work in gold, Quinn manifests an image of luxury and impossible dreams—dreams that nevertheless stand in stark contrast to reality. The spectacular gold sculpture Song of the Siren presents a pervasive, hallucinatory image of beauty that invites viewers to engage with the work’s inherent three-dimensionality, but also stands as an impressive paradigm of this celebrated artist’s diverse and highly coveted oeuvre.
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