The Art of the Plant – Marc Quinn

Best known for Self - a cast of his blood-filled head, the sculptor has also found inspiration in the natural world
Seed of the Baroque (2014) by Marc Quinn, from Plant: Exploring the Botanical World
Seed of the Baroque (2014) by Marc Quinn, from Plant: Exploring the Botanical World

Nature was once the chief source of inspiration for artists. In recent times, many seem more engaged with human culture, rather than the natural world. Nevertheless, our new book, Plant: Exploring the Botanical World, proves that even the most controversial contemporary artists have also turned to fauna.

This new title, a wonderful gift for gardeners and art-lovers, features 300 of the most beautiful and pioneering botanical images ever. Plenty of these were created by botanical experts, intent on recording natural fauna as faithfully as possible. However, many others are the work of fine artists. Consider, for example, this flower work by the British sculptor Marc Quinn.


The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa (1647–52) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa (1647–52) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

“The writhing petals of this large bronze sculpture of an orchid by the British artist Marc Quinn are reminiscent of Apollo and Daphne or The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa by the great seventeenth-century sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Like Bernini, Quinn is interested in the idea of transcendence or transformation, and the flower is for him a symbol of both beauty and impermanence.

“Quinn sets out to take ethereal, light and transient blooms and preserve them in heavy materials – here, bronze painted a clinical white. Flowers figure frequently in his work, both for their attractive shapes and for their symbolism. In Garden (2000), Quinn submerged dozens of plants in full bloom in a tank of refrigerated silicon oil, creating an image that he describes as ‘all the flowers in the world coming up at the same time, in the same place, an idea of a perfect paradise’. This vision of perpetual life, however, is created from flowers that are already dead: if one were to touch the petals, they would be brittle and snap.


Plant: Exploring the Botanical World

“Quinn’s career has often led him into controversy, not least when he created a sculpture of his head using his own frozen blood, or when he created a nude sculpture of the pregnant artist Alison Lapper who was born without arms and legs for the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square, London, in 2005.”  Buy a copy of Plant: Exploring the Botanical World here.

You May Also Like



Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
Read more