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With ‘The Origin of the World (Cassis Madagascariensis) Indian Ocean, 310’, Marc Quinn presents a realistic shell cast in bronze, 3 meters high. The title of the work refers to the emblematic painting by Gustave Courbet ‘L’Origine du Monde’, 1866, and invites the observer to perceive the work as a monumental symbol of a woman’s sex.

Quinn refers to the history of art and its masterpieces; indeed the artist alludes to Sandro Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’, c. 1485, which represents the birth of the goddess of love, escaping gently from a shell as she arises from the sea foam. As a witness of a disturbed era, the work illustrates the need to find retreat in a close and protective environment, expressed by the use of round and soft shapes.

Later, as part of his continued work on his series Archaeology of Art, Quinn observed how these shell sculptures are a model of how the present (represented by the highly polished, reflective surface) becomes the past, creating rings like those found on a tree as it ages.

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