Gavin Turk‘s works largely revolve around one central theme: the identity of the artist. Using art’s famous figures as a starting point – Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Joseph Beuys, etc. – Turk calls the myth of the artist and the perception of famous works into question.
Turk gained wide recognition in the 90s through the Young British Artists movement, which formed in 1988 as a loose association of artists including Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Like other Young British Artists, he explored the idea of authorship and created high-concept works with references to art history. In his exhibition, Cave, at the Royal College of Art, Turk decorated a whitewashed studio with a single commemorative plaque reading: “Gavin Turk worked here, 1989–1991.” Although he did not receive an official university degree for this memorable installation, it did make a big impression on renowned art collector Charles Saatchi and other prominent gallerists of the day.
Gavin Turk’s art remains provocative and sensational to this day. He often interweaves his own name or image into it. Turk creates ingeniously humorous works. Or, as he puts it: “I try to interrogate ideas of value with my work; to stop the blindness that appears when certain artworks become iconic.”
Gavin Turk was born in 1967 in Guildford, England. He studied at the Chelsea College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art in London. His work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Vienna, Paris, London, and New York, in institutions like the Tate or London’s White Cube. Since 2012, he has been a professor of Art and Design at Bath Spa University. He lives and works in London.