Gavin Turk (1967 – )
Gavin Turk was born in 1967 in Guildford, England. He attended the Royal College of Art between 1989 and 1991 and currently lives and works in London.
Cave (1995) is a reworked replication of a piece that caused Turk to fail his Masters at the Royal College of Art. As part of his degree show presentation, he simply presented an empty studio space with just a blue imitation English Heritage plaque hanging on the wall. The plaque bore the words ‘Borough of Kensington GAVIN TURK Sculptor Worked Here 1989-1991’. These plaques are usually found on the exteriors of buildings to commemorate once famous inhabitants. Conditions of being awarded this plaque are, amongst other criteria, that you must have been dead for at least twenty years and “have made an important contribution to human welfare or happiness.” By presenting the plaque, Turk attempted to validate his future importance to society before his career had even begun. By turning his studio into an installation space he also changed the way that the space was perceived, the plaque giving it an apparent air of significance. The Final Examination Board decided that Turk had 'displayed insufficient work of the standard required for Final Examination' and so, following re-examination, refused to award him an MA certificate.
Upon leaving college Turk continued his career in a similar vein, working around the central themes of authorship, authenticity and identity, often casting himself as the main subject of his work. An example of this can be found in one of Turk’s most well-known works Pop (1993), where the artist adopts the identity of young punk icon Sid Vicious as a life-size waxwork singing 'My Way' in the pose of Elvis Presley, as once depicted by Andy Warhol. The reference to Warhol is again apparent in his Faces (2004) portfolio. Turk unashamedly copies the techniques of the American artist who, in the 1980s, created a similar print of his rival, German artist Joseph Beuys, as a way to mock his credibility. The set of six images, shown here, appear to be that of Elvis Presley, Che Guevera and Joseph Beuys but upon closer inspection (and with clues such as the play on words in the titles such as Gavara Reversed) it is actually Turk himself made up to look like the iconic images, again questioning the notion of identity.
Turk’s work was included in the influential Sensation exhibition in 1997 at the Royal Academy of Arts London. His work has been included in many group and solo exhibitions including the White .
Made in Britain Contemporary Art from the British Council Collection 1980-2010,China Federation of Literary and Art Circles Publishing Corporation 2010. ISBN 978-7-5059-7014-4.
Existing or coming into being at the same period; of today or of the present. The term that designates art being made today.
A woven, embroidered or otherwise decorated length of cloth displayed on a wall.
An artwork comprised of many and various elements of miscellaneous materials (see mixed media), light and sound, which is conceived for and occupies an entire space, gallery or site. The viewer can often enter or walk around the installation. Installations may only exist as long as they are installed, but can be re-created in different sites. Installation art emerged in the 1960s out of Environmental Art (works of art which are three-dimensional environments), but it was not until the 1970s that the term came into common use and not until the late 1980s that artists started to specialise in this kind of work, creating a genre of ‘Installation Art’. The term can also be applied to the arrangement of selected art works in an exhibition.
A set of pictures (as drawings, photographs or prints) either bound in book form or loose in a folder. These can be by the same artist or individual works by a selection of artists. The term also refers to the folder which holds the set.