His series of these sculptures, titled Self, enthralled the public and confounded critics, setting the tone for his out-of-the-box works that explore unconventional themes - from Sphinx (2006) to The Toxic Sublime exhibition (2015). Marc Quinn's art certainly embodies divergent thinking. He said in one interview that he chose the blood medium because he wanted to "push the material boundaries of sculpture," not to mention that “blood was the only part of my body I could take out without mutilating myself.”
In his book, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi questions what traits distinguish those who are exceptionally creative. He writes, "If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it would be complexity. They contain contradictory extremes - instead of being an individual each of them is a multitude." Quinn studied history and art history at the University of Cambridge, and says that he never had any formal art training - which was certainly different than many of his contemporaries. In the early 1990's, however, he became prominent as one of the original Young British Artists, a group known for turning London's contemporary art scene upside down with their provocative work and reckless ideas. These artists refused to wait for institutional approval to present their work, and, in Quinn’s view, “the idea of bringing real life into art" is what united them.
This notion can certainly be found in Self, which Quinn sees as "a 21st-century vision of progress," inspired by Rembrandt's series of self-portraits. He wanted to express his aging and changing self, a look into all of the complexities of a creative. In fact, Self was made at a time when Quinn was struggling with alcoholism. Perhaps the most profound description Quinn provides of Self is,"it depends on my life to be created – it’s made from the substance of me; and so I think of it as the purest form of sculpture to sculpt your own body, from your own body."
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row.