A Century of Giving
pigment print, Paragon Press
The Fitzwilliam Museum: P.62-2002
Garden2 is a set of eight, ink jet images by Marc Quinn (b.1964) who was a Cambridge History of Art student before he began working as a sculptor. Quinn's work has a strongly conceptual basis and he continues to explore the artistic potential of a wide range of materials and media.
This set of prints relates to an installation by Quinn in Milan in 2000, in which hundreds of exotic and unseasonal flowers, flown in from all over the world, were suspended in a huge tank of silicone liquid kept frozen at -20 degrees
The display involved some unlikely juxtapositions of simultaneously flowering plants: a plum tree in bloom next to a banana tree and cactus; British spring flowers next to tropical fruits and desert orchids; tulips and roses paired with exotic vegetables.
In 17th century Dutch art, the symbolic language of flowers was used to comment on the fragility of life. To a contemporary viewer, however, Quinn's voluptuously artificial Garden has more sinister, topical associations - such as gene manipulation and global warming.
The Garden can be seen as an elaboration on Quinn's preoccupation with the themes of death and mutability. As he put it: 'the plants have traded biological life for a symbolic immortality'.
Museums have traditionally been reluctant to accept new printing technologies, such as photography, or Hockney's use of colour photocopying in the 1970s. However, when the Fitzwilliam was first opened, the new technique of lithography was equally controversial. It was frowned on by those who favoured older methods of print-making such as etching and engraving.