Harvey’s sculptures are assembled of cast archaeological objects, masks and portraits of characters inspired by an array of British history-mythology. The works playfully question our knowledge and perception of history and are flavoured by satirists from George Cruikshank to contemporary political cartoonists.
In this series, Harvey forges motifs and emblems of Britishness into collaged portraits of historical British figures or foes from history, from Nelson to Margaret Thatcher and from Napoleon to Tony Blair. He works the imagery, handling the clay in a battle to find its form, before subjecting the sculpture to multiple firings and glazes. The result is tough but humorous sculpture, unapologetic and brash, political yet ambiguous, considered and painterly.
Marcus Harvey was born in Leeds, 1963, and currently lives and works in London. He graduated from Goldsmiths College in 1986 and took part in Some Went Mad, Some Ran Away at the Serpentine Gallery, London, in 1994.
Marcus Harvey makes highly worked figurative paintings and sculptures. He seeks out imagery that is emblematic of a brutish but proud Britishness. Often his imagery is problematic or controversial, his most infamous work perhaps being ‘Myra’ which was exhibited as part of the groundbreaking exhibition Sensation in 1997. Unprecedented national and international media attention ensued as the painting had been created with repeated child’s handprints in the image of the infamous child-murderer Myra Hindley. Another early image source for Harvey was pornographic magazines, which was the inspiration for the series ‘Readers Wives’. Since 2000, Harvey has created a series of door-panel paintings, which depict domestic vignettes in a way that mimics the distorting effect of patterned glass. Having concentrated on figurative painting for most of his career, Harvey has recently turned to sculpture, producing work that maintains the same playfully provocative style of his paintings.
Solo exhibitions include Mary Boone Gallery, New York, 2002; Mimmo Scognamiglio, Naples, 2005 and Albion, Galleria Marabini, Bologna, 2007. Recent group shows include Sensation, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1997; Happy the World so Made, The Nunnery, London, 2001; Closer, Standpoint Gallery, London, 2002; London Calling. Young British Artists Criss-Crossed, Galleri Kaare Berntsen, Oslo, 2005; Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2007 and You Dig The Tunnel, I’ll Hide The Soil, White Cube, Hoxton Square and Shoreditch Town Hall, London, 2008.