Martin Creed's playful and deceptively simple artwork explores the distinction between art and the ordinariness of life. Creed is a conceptualist who uses elements of minimalism in his practice. His multidisciplinary practice ranges between installation, performance, sound art, sculpture, painting, and drawing.Read More
Creed was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire. From the age of three, he was raised in Glasgow. In 1986, the artist studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Following his undergraduate degree, Creed became disenchanted with painting. He felt the medium restrained his artistic expression, and took a break from painting for several years.
Throughout the late 1990s, Creed began to develop an experimental practice. His work became heavily conceptual and offered simplicity. He developed engaging installations intended to draw visitors' attention to things that they might otherwise overlook.
Martin Creed labels and identifies his artworks by numbers. By doing so, he gives each work equal status, irrespective of its material, shape, or size. Creed developed this distinctive approach to avoid decision-making and to explore the dilemma he faced of wanting to simultaneously make something and nothing.
In Work No. 227: The lights going on and off (2000), Creed challenges traditional museum standards by manipulating the existing light fittings of the exhibition space. By seizing an empty room and switching the lights on for five seconds and then off for five seconds, Creed forms a new atmosphere that toys with viewers' experience and expectations. Viewers' impression of time and space is altered, and a focus on the physicality of the room comes into play.
Work No. 227: The lights going on and off (2000) is part of a wider series of work that aims to investigate the ordinary and the everyday. Creed's oeuvre praises the mundane by using materials like Blu-Tak, party balloons, and masking tape in his artwork.
Creed submitted Work No. 227: The lights going on and off for the Turner Prize at the Tate Gallery, London in 2001. He was awarded the prestigious prize and received £20,000 in prize money.
Everything Is Going To Be Alright (1999) is a series of neon-light installations that is regarded as one of the artist's most important works. The neon installation displays the phrase 'Everything Is Going To Be Alright' in colourful lettering, 13 metres in length and half a metre in height.
Intended for display at a height across the façade of a building, Creed's installation functions as a tool for the artist to communicate with his audience. Creed is prompting a reaction from viewers who try to decode his statement's ambivalent meaning. The use of neon—a raw gas that cannot be seen—plays into Creed's conflicting desire to create something and nothing from his art.
The work was originally commissioned for the Clapton Portico in Hackney, London. It has since been displayed at a number of other settings around the world, in countries including Italy, America, Scotland, and New Zealand.
In 2001, Creed was awarded the Turner Prize for his controversial work, Work No. 227: The lights going on and off (2000). In 2011, Creed participated in the Singapore Biennale and the Folkestone Triennial.
In 2012, Creed was commissioned to create Work No. 1197: All the bells in the country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes (2012) for the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
Martin Creed has exhibited his work in galleries and institutions across the world.
Select solo exhibitions include Toast, Hauser & Wirth, London (2019); ARTIST ROOMS: Martin Creed, Tate Britain, London (2018); Martin Creed, Michael Lett Gallery, Auckland (2015); Art & Sound, Fondazione Prada, Venice (2014); Martin Creed, Gavin Brown and Hauser & Wirth, New York (2014); What's the Point of it?, Hayward Gallery, London (2014); and House of Art, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic (2012).
Select group exhibitions include Stronger Than Language, Hauser & Wirth, St. Moritz (2020); Ordinary/ Extra/ Ordinary, The Public Gallery, West Bromwich (2013); Belief & Understanding, Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York (2011); Silence: Listen to the show, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2007); Abstract Art Now: Floating Forms, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen (2006); and Surprise, Surprise, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London (2006).
Phoebe Bradford | Ocula | 2021