Marc Quinn ('Self')

© Marc Quinn. Photo: Marc Quinn studio. Courtesy: Marc Quinn studio

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Marc Quinn ('Self')

by Marc Quinn
blood (artist's), liquid silicone, stainless steel, glass, perspex and refrigeration equipment, 2006
80 3/4 in. x 25 5/8 in. 25 5/8 in. (2050 mm x 650 mm x 650mm)
Purchased with help from the Art Fund, the Henry Moore Foundation, Terry and Jean de Gunzburg and ProjectB Contemporary Art, 2009
Primary Collection
NPG 6863

On display in Room 32 on Floor 1 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

  • Marc Quinn (1964-), Artist. Sitter in 7 portraits, Artist or producer of 5 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Marc Quinn (1964-), Artist. Artist or producer of 5 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This self-portrait is cast with eight pints of Quinn's frozen blood. Described by the artist as a 'frozen moment on lifesupport', the work is carefully maintained in a refrigeration unit, reminding the viewer of the fragility of existence. The blood is pasteurised, but its appearance does change slightly during the sculpture's installation. The artist made a new version of Self every five years, each of which documents Quinn's own physical transformation and deterioration. The first version of Self was made in 1991 and featured in Sensation, an exhibition of work from the collection of Charles Saatchi, held at the Royal Academy in 1997.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • I-Spy National Portrait Gallery, 2010, p. 59
  • Edited by Rab MacGibbon and Tanya Bentley, Icons and Identities, 2021, p. 21
  • Howgate, Sarah; Nairne, Sandy, A Guide to Contemporary Portraits, 2009, p. 41 Read entry

    Both challenging and provoking, Marc Quinn’s work has raised many questions about the representation of the human figure in contemporary culture. Self is the latest in a series of life casts made of his own head and created from his own blood, which document the process of transformation and deterioration. Of human proportions, it sits on a polished base that reflects the viewer, so the work can be regarded as both a self-portrait and a portrait of everyone.

  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 217

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 2006back to top

Current affairs

The Loans for Peerages affair erupts after four businessmen who gave unpublished loans to the Labour Party are nominated for peerages. The scandal revealed a legal loophole: while political parties must declare all large donations, they were not required to declare loans. This led the Police to investigate whether the parties had broken the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act, and to Lord Levy and Tony Blair.

Art and science

A year of blockbuster exhibitions including Modernism at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a Surrealism exhibition at the Haywood Gallery, Michaelangelo Drawings at the British Museum, Valezqueth at the National Gallery, Rodin at the Royal Academy, Holbein at Tate Britain, and David Hockney Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery.


Following the kidnapping of two Israeli Soldiers by Lebanese Hezbollah militants, Israel launches a heavy artillery attack and ground invasion on Lebanon. In response Hezbollah launched rockets into northern Israel and engaged the Israeli Defence Forces in guerrilla warfare. The conflict ended after claiming over 1500 lives - mostly Lebanese civilians - with a UN resolution calling for Hezbollah's disarmament and Israel's withdrawal of troops from Lebanon.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

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Edwina Pitman

28 April 2020, 15:09

According to Marc Quinn's website Self contains 10 pints of blood not 8 (I believe it 10 pints because that is the same number as in his whole body).
Also the RA Sensation exhibition was in 1997, not 1991.

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