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Last Updated: Monday, 15 March, 2004, 19:27 GMT
Profiles: Artists who share a plinth
By Caroline Briggs
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Artists Marc Quinn and Thomas Schütte have been selected to have their work displayed on the vacant fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square. BBC News Online profiles both artists.

Marc Quinn
Quinn's work will be displayed first

Marc Quinn - Alison Lapper Pregnant

Marc Quinn, one of the so-called BritArt stars, first made an impact on the scene with Self in 1991 - a sculpture made from a cast of his head and nine pints of his own deep-frozen blood.

Seen as a daring piece created during the height of the Aids scare, it was later bought by Charles Saatchi for a rumoured £13,000.

Since then, Quinn has produced a diverse range of provocative conceptual works, mostly inspired by the human body.

In 1999, London's National Portrait Gallery unveiled Quinn's "DNA image" of the leading genetic scientist Sir John Sulston, who contributed a sample of DNA from his sperm to make the image.

Around this time, Quinn began a body of work that consisted of sculptural life-size nude portraits of people who had lost limbs as a result of birth, illness or accident.

'Powerful impact'

One of the series - which comprised four men and four women - went on to win the Wollaston Award at London's Royal Academy Summer exhibition in 2001.

Quinn won the £25,000 prize for his marble sculpture Catherine Long.

His winning plinth sculpture of his pregnant friend Alison Lapper - who was born without arms and with short legs - was part of this series, leading to some art critics to accuse Quinn of being "lazy".

Critic Rachel Campbell-Johnston praised Quinn's entry, saying it made a "powerful visual impact".

But Adrian Searle, Guardian art critic, said: "Marc Quinn's white marble sculpture... might well say something about ideals of classical beauty, and make a wry link with the disabled Nelson on his column, but Quinn has already made this point elsewhere."

Thomas Schütte
Thomas Schütte was one of the favourites to win
Thomas Schütte - Hotel for the Birds

Contemporary German-born artist Thomas Schütte had been one of the front-runners to clinch the coveted fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square.

His primary-coloured Perspex architectural model of an imaginary building called Hotel for the Birds had been described by some critics as the most "sophisticated" entry for the coveted platform.

Born in Oldenburg 1954, he has produced a diverse body of work, including architectural models, distorted figurative sculpture, ceramics and watercolours, and is considered one of the most important artists of his generation.

'Airfix model'

Adrian Searle, from the Guardian, heaped praise on Hotel for the Birds.

He said: "The colour and the luminous, refractive properties of his material, and the open levels of two of its three linked structures, make it both something to look at and to look through.

"It does something with space, in space. The birds might mess it up, but it is their hotel, after all."

But Rachel Campbell-Johnston called it "a piecemeal Perspex construction" that was "boring and disappointing".

Critic Jenny McCartney also described the piece as "ferociously dull, like Airfix models for grown-ups".

Schütte himself has admitted: "What pigeons will do to the material is not quite clear."

In Pictures: Art for Trafalgar Square
11 Dec 03  |  Photo Gallery
The battles of Trafalgar Square
02 Jul 03  |  London


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