Biography

Gavin Turk was born in 1967 in Guildford, England and went to the Royal College of Art in London.

In 1991 Turk was denied his MA certificate from the Royal College of Art for his degree show presentation, which consisted of an empty white studio with a blue English Heritage plaque installed, which simply bore the inscription "Borough of Kensington/GAVIN TURK/ Sculptor/Worked Here 1989-1991." Beginning his career paradoxically with his own demise and posthumous recognition set the tone for his subsequent work, which dealt with the cult of personality and the construction of artistic myth. In the 1990s, Turk came to prominence as one of Britain's infamous "Young British Artists" and was included in the influential Sensation exhibition in 1997.

Turk's installations and sculptures deal with issues of authorship, authenticity and identity. Concerned with 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. In the early 1990s Turk explored issues of authorship and identity by making a number of works based on his own signature that comment on the value that the artist's name confers onto a work. He has also made a number of photographic and sculptural self-portraits that often involve some degree of disguise. One of his best-known sculptures, Pop (1993), is a life-size waxwork self-portrait in which he adopts the identity of Sid Vicious singing 'My Way' in the pose of Elvis Presley as depicted by Andy Warhol. In more recent works such as Pile (2004), a painted bronze sculpture of a pile of garbage bags, Turk explores the way in which a work of art is conferred with iconic status and value.

Turk's work has been included in several seminal exhibitions including the 46th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul in 1999; Material Culture, Hayward Gallery, London in 1998 and Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, Royal Academy of Arts, Saatchi Collection, London in 1995. Recent exhibitions have included: Gavin Turk-Me as Him, Riflemaker, London; Gavin Turk: The Negotiation of Purpose, GEM Museum for Contemporary Art, The Hague, The Netherlands; Gavin Turk: Last Year in Eggenburg (The Paradise Show), Schloss Eggenburg, Graz; The Golden Thread, Sculpture at Goodwood, West Sussex; Gavin Turk: et in arcadia eggo, New Art Centre Sculpture Park & Gallery, Salisbury; Gavin Turk Oeuvre, Tate Britain Sculpture Court Display, London; En Face, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Málaga, Spain.

Gavin Turk lives and works in London.
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