Lot 16
  • 16

MARC QUINN | Song of the Siren

300,000 - 400,000 GBP
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  • Marc Quinn
  • Song of the Siren
  • incised with the artist's signature, dated 2010 and numbered on the underside
  • 18 carat gold
  • 48.3 cm., 19 in.
  • Executed in 2010, this work is from an edition of 1, plus 1 artist's proof.


Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Extremely close inspection reveals some very light and unobtrusive oxidation to the recesses around the figure’s nose and upper lip. Further extremely close inspection reveals some very fine, shallow and unobtrusive superficial scratches in places, most of which are likely to be original to the polishing process.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Song of the Siren offers a supreme example of Marc Quinn’s renowned series of sculptures depicting the supermodel Kate Moss, whose head is reincarnated here in vibrant and luminous 18-carat gold. The present work boldly articulates the artist’s characteristic investigation into ideas of beauty and celebrity, and the female body becomes the vehicle through which he explores such contemporary concerns. Both the image and persona of Kate Moss has served as muse for Quinn’s sculptures since 2006, and has—according to the artist himself—contributed to a long lineage of archetypal female images “stretching from the Venus of Willendorf in prehistoric times, through Nefertiti’s bust in Egypt, images of the Virgin, and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus in the Renaissance, to Warhol’s Marilyn…” (Marc Quinn cited in: Exh. Cat., Groningen, Groninger Museum, Recent Sculptures, 2006, n.p.) Thus the exemplary image that Quinn presents in his highly detailed sculptural portrait of Kate Moss offers serious allusions to an art historical discourse poignantly centred upon female iconography. 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.