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Artists Martin Creed
Martin Creed Photo

Martin Creed

British Multimedia Artist and Musician

Movements and Styles: Conceptual Art, Installation Art, Expressionism

Born: 21 October 1968 - Wakefield, England

Martin Creed Timeline

Quotes

"I think I want to make things because I want to communicate with people, because I want to be loved, because I want to express myself."
Martin Creed
"[My work is] 50% about what I make and 50% about what other people make of it."
Martin Creed
"I really fear only doing one thing. I feel like I've got to try and work on all fronts, because I don't know which front's the best one. I really fear getting caught in a trap."
Martin Creed
"I want my work, so to speak, to be silly. I want to make things that are stupid and that contrast with that which is around it."
Martin Creed
"I don't know how to be funny. I'm not very good at telling jokes. I try to be true and honest. That's often funny. The truth is often ridiculous."
Martin Creed

"The only thing I feel like I know is that I want to make things"

Synopsis

Martin Creed is an artist best known for turning the lights on and off. Winning the Turner Prize (the most prestigious art award in the UK) in 2001 for an installation that consisted only of that action, his conceptual art practice has been ridiculed by sectors of the media but nevertheless left him a hugely significant and well-regarded contemporary artist with a prominent national and international profile within the art world.

Creed's work takes everyday objects, throwaway materials and playful subversions of familiar spaces and asks its viewers to divine meaning through the experience of their viewing. In doing so he raises questions about the material requirements of art and the hang-ups of skill, effort and training that dictate how we judge quality. Although rejecting the label of conceptual art, his work is deeply invested in the notion that art is, and indeed should be present all around us, requiring only attention. This leads to installations, music, performance and objects that are playful and often amusing in their subversive call to reconsider what art is, what it does, and who it is for.

Key Ideas

Creed's work is grounded in the everyday and mundane, made strange by the frame they are placed within. He does so by using familiar objects, materials, or actions in unusual ways, such as structuring them around a rhythm or adhering to tight rules. This has included arranging objects by size, height or volume to create sculptural installations, or creating paintings by marking canvases with the strokes of different sizes of household brushes. Creed's actions as an artist makes his audience reconsider the world around them by reappraising the familiar, foregrounding the unacknowledged beauty that exists in the everyday.
Creed's work often includes humour, prankishness and/or direct challenges to notions of value, worth and skill. His artworks are conceptually sophisticated but almost deliberately invite the response 'but I could have done that'. This has caused his work to be ridiculed and condemned as a 'con', but that reaction too forms part of its impact. Implicit in this is a challenge to the art market, the international gallery system, and perhaps capitalism itself, where a simple action or everyday object can have its value hugely increased by its framing as an art object.
Although best known as a visual artist, Creed is also a musician, and ideas of musical rhythm and notation appear throughout all his practice. Scores and notation structure and dictate the experience of his work, with incremental progressions particularly common, as in the graphic patterns of his paintings or in his reimaging of the Scotsman Staircase in Edinburgh, Work no.1059.
Since his Turner Prize win, Creed has created a series of large public pieces, several of which are now highly regarded as monuments to civic or institutional pride (such as the steps, or his neon installation at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art). Despite its media characterisation as impenetrable or elitist, Creed's work has great popular appeal, confirming his egalitarian approach to the making and viewing of art.

Biography

Martin Creed Photo

Childhood

Creed was born in Wakefield, England in 1968 before moving to Scotland at three, where his father (an ironmonger) lectured on glassmaking and jewellery at the Glasgow School of Art. Creed grew up in a musical as well as artistic family. His grandmother was a concert pianist, and Creed began to learn to play the violin at four and the piano at twelve. As he remembers, "I was taught as a child the most important things were music and art." These two forms would later be combined throughout his own artistic work.

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Martin Creed Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Martin Creed
Interactive chart with Martin Creed's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Andy WarholAndy Warhol
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Billy Connolly
Samuel BeckettSamuel Beckett
Steve ReichSteve Reich

Personal Contacts

Bruce McLean
Nick McCarthy
Richard LongRichard Long

Movements

Performance ArtPerformance Art
MinimalismMinimalism
Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
anti-materialism
SituationismSituationism

Influences on Artist
Martin Creed
Martin Creed
Years Worked: 1986 - present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Katie Paterson
Figs in Wigs

Personal Contacts

Cardboard Citizens (Theatre Group)
Franz Ferdinand

Movements

Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
Neo-ExpressionismNeo-Expressionism

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Dawn Kanter

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Lewis Church

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Dawn Kanter
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Lewis Church
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