The Man Who Put Kate Moss on a Pedestal; Working Model: Marc Quinn Used Casts of Moss's Limbs and a Contortionist Sitter, as Well as Creating Sketches and Paintings Startling Beauty: Quinn's Myth (Sphinx), Left on Show at Chatsworth as Part of Sotheby's beyond Limits Exhibition, Is Expected to Sell for [Pounds Sterling]500,000; His Alison Lapper Pregnant, above, Will Be Replaced on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square Next Month
Byline: FIONA MADDOCKS
THE LATEST incarnation of Kate Moss, 3.3 metres high, virginal white,limbs contorted in bestial beauty like a Shiva deity, is already part of ourconsciousness. That famous half-smile, dreamy and glazed, stares out throughcurtains of hair. Her androgynous body teeters precipitously on her coccyx,legs splayed and flaunting all for anyone who cares to see..
"Wherever we look, Kate Moss's image has become part of our mythology,"observes the soft-spoken artist Marc Quinn, who sculpted the supermodel as
Myth (Sphinx), now itself part of that image-making process. "In whatever form,in newspapers, magazines, on the internet, she's our kind of collectivehallucination of perfection, someone we see everywhere and know almost nothingabout." The work, cast in bronze and coated in white car paint"partly to withstand the elements, partly as an ironic tribute to that othergreat object of desire"is the highlight of Beyond Limits, Sotheby's second selling show of monumentalsculpture which opened at Chatsworth this week and runs until 4 November. Otherartists in the show, juxtaposing contemporary and classical, art and nature,include Rodin, Barbara Hepworth, Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst.
The Derbyshire seat of the Devonshires, set in the rolling Peak DistrictNational Park, has long been a home both to culture and to It girl celebrity,from Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire to "Debo" Mitford, now the DowagerDuchess. The current Duke and Duchess are themselves industrious collectors.
Sotheby's has given Kate Moss/Sphinx mesmerising pride of place at the end ofthe canal pond, creating a vista with the 17th-century house as a backdrop.
The work already has a number of interested buyers willing to pay the askingprice of [pounds sterling]500,000. During the course of a conversation with Quinn, the phonedoesn't stop. The offers seem to rise with each call.
"I don't care about the money," he says. "Except in as much as it pays for meto do other stuff that won't sell instantly." The complexity and range ofQuinn's work, and the huge expense of the materials he uses, is notablefrom laboratory-tested DNA samples to Italian marble from the quarry used byMichelangelo. Many of the processes require hiring the skills of craftsmen totransform sketches and maquettes to massive sculptural life. Yes, he moves in aglamorous art-world set. Yes, his clients have included Miuccia Prada.
But he works with dogged and ascetic application.
Quinn, 43, was one of the original Young British Artists. He, Damien Hirst andTracey Emin grew up together professionally.
He is even rumoured to have shared a flat with Hirst but ever private,especially when it comes to commenting on other artists, he says he "can'tremember".
He first attracted interest in 1991 with Self, in which he cast his own head inrefrigerated blood. Charles Saatchi, an early patron, bought it for [pounds sterling]12,000 andsold it for [pounds sterling]1.5 million (stories about it melting in Nigella's fridge areapocryphal).
Later he did a series of works about people whose limbs had been amputated. ButQuinn only came to wider fame, or notoriety, when he won the Fourth Plinthcompetition with Alison Lapper Pregnant, the great marble statue of a womanwith no arms and truncated legs, which currently towers over us in TrafalgarSquare.
Moss startles us in a different way. As commentators have been quick to pointout, her splayed pose gives us a perfect view of what Courbet called "theorigin of the world" (though in his 1866 painting the model is salaciouslynaked, Moss obligingly wears a leotard). What does Quinn say to those who can'tget beyond thinking it rude? He is phlegmatic. "People see what's in theirminds. Every projection anyone puts on art is valid. If they think parts of thehuman body are rude, that's fine, but it's really their business." HE FOUNDinspiration for the Moss in Chola Indian sculpture of gods and goddesses. …