Gavin Turk, (1967, Guildford, Surrey, England) works and lives in London. The British artist is the
pioneer of various sculpture forms, frequently used and commonly appreciated nowadays in British art
like bronze, mummification, references from historical and art icons as well as the use of rubbish in
artworks. His installations and sculptures deal with issues like identity, authenticity and value of art.
Concerned with the transformative effect of the reception by the myth of the artist and the authorship of
a work, Turk’s engagement with this modernist, avant-garde debate stretches back to the ready-mades
of Marcel Duchamp.
Turk was denied his MA certificate from the Royal College of Art at the age of 24, since, his degree
show presentation was consisted of en empty white studio with an English Heritage plaque installed,
which simply bore the inscription ‘Gavin Turk / Sculpture / Worked Here 1989-1991.’The piece brought
the artist notoriety in the art world. Soon, his work was discovered by Charles Saatchi and presented in
the exhibition ‘Sensation’ in 1997(with a critical painting where he adopts the identity of Elvis Presley as
depicted by Andy Warhol ), making his presence as a central figure in the worldwide known galleries.
Gavin Turk’s works have been included in many museums such as NY Moma, Tate Britain, Victoria &
Albert Museum and collections like Deutsche Bank. Turk borrows figures like Sid Vicious, Andy Warhol,
Elvis Presley, Che Guevara and Jean-Paul Maray, both from cultural popular and intellectual history and
develops a critical method where he, in a way, ‘takes as a hostage’ the personae of this famous people
on two dimensional canvases. Turk also discusses the art history in his work through some recognizable
elements from Rene Magritte, Jasper Johns, Marcel Duchamp and Yves Klein.
Including his “Nail” sculpture designed for the building One New Change, next to St. Paul Cathedral in
London, Gavin Turk produces important art works in public spaces. Turk’s work has been included in
many exhibitions such as Istanbul Biennial (1999), ‘Century City’ – Tate Modern London (2001), ‘Remix:
Contemporary Art and Pop’, Tate Liverpool (2002) ve ‘Coollustre’, Collection Lambert en Avignon (2003)
and 'Pop Life: Art in a Material World' (2009). Turk have been running a community education project
based troupe of artist since 2001 with his partner and wife Deborah Curtis named ‘The House of Fairy
Tales’. This project is presented in a mobile gallery horse box in Glastonbury and Hay-on-Wye and still
exhibited in Edinburgh.
Among the works of the artist dealing during his career with value and authenticity in art, the piece
entitled ‘Revolting Brick’ is also interesting and significant. In December 2009, Turk was invited to the
‘Bricks’ exhibition in Southeast London with this piece ‘Revolting Brick’, however the day before the
exhibition, his work had been stolen and replaced with a fake brick helding the words ‘Thank you and
Have a Nice Day, Next’ and was part of a set of 500 bricks that was left at the exhibition venue. Even
though the artist was upset at this theft, he was flattered since what happened raised questions about
value and worth of art works.