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Martin Creed (born 1968) is a British artist and musician. He won the Turner Prize in 2001 for Work No. 227: the lights going on and off, which was an empty room in which the lights went on and off.
Life and work
Since 1987, Creed has numbered each of his works, and most of his titles are deadpan and descriptive. Work No. 79: some Blu-tack kneaded, rolled into a ball and depressed against a wall (1993), for example, is just what it sounds like, as is Work No. 88, a sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball (1994). One of Creed's best known works is Work No. 200, half the air in a given space (1998), which is a room half-filled with balloons.
Creed is perhaps best known for his submission for the 2001 Turner Prize show at the Tate Gallery, Work No. 227, the lights going on and off, which won that year's prize. The artwork presented was an empty room in which the lights periodically switched on and off (frequency five seconds on/five seconds off). As so often with the Turner Prize, this created a great deal of press attention, most of it questioning whether something as minimalist as this could be considered art at all. His work has often excited controversy: a visitor threw eggs at the walls of Creed's empty room as a protest against the prize, declaring that Creed's presentations were not real art and that "painting is in danger of becoming an extinct skill in this country". Ironically, in recent years Creed has been exhibiting paintings in nearly every exhibition he has done. In the decade since the Turner Prize he has exhibited extensively throughout the world, including large survey shows at Trussardi Foundation, Milan ('I Like Things'), Bard College, New York ('Feelings'), and a touring exhibition which started at Ikon Gallery Birmingham and toured to Hiroshima and Seoul.
Creed formed a band, Owada, in 1994. In 1997, they released their first CD, "Nothing", on David Cunningham's Piano label. Sound has also featured in his gallery-based work, with pieces using doorbells and metronomes. Since 1999 he no longer used the band name "Owada". In 2000, he published a recording of his songs under his own name with the arts publisher Art Metropole, in Toronto. He started his own label, Telephone Records, and released the single "Thinking/ Not Thinking" in early 2011, following it up with the single "Where You Go" in 2012. Releases accelerated in 2012, with the Double AA Side single "Fuck Off" and "Die" coming out on Moshi Moshi Records in May 2012, in advance of the album "Love To You", released on Moshi Moshi in July 2012. The album is produced by David Cunningham, Martin Creed and The Nice NIce Boys (Andrew Knowles of Johnny Marr & The Healers and Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand). A special edition vinyl of the album is being made by Vinyl Factory. Coming out at the same time as the album is the single "You're The One For Me".
Martin Creed and his band were picked by The Cribs as the 'Hottest Band in the World Right Now' on NME.com and they invited him to support them on their recent UK tour. Martin Creed is also much loved by Franz Ferdinand - regular attendees at his gigs and co-producers on his album - as well as Moshi Moshi label-mates Slow Club.
For Creed there is no difference between making music and making art. Like his Work No. 850, in which runners ran through the Tate Gallery, his music is disarmingly simple but makes an immediate impact. Work No. 1197 “All the bells in the country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes” has been commissioned to herald the start of the London Olympics, at 8.12am on 27 July 2012.
In 2010, he provided the cover art for a Futuristic Retro Champions single, while supporting its launch with an appearance with his own band.
In 2009, he wrote and choreographed Work No. 1020, a live performance of Creed's own music, ballet, words and film, originally produced by Sadler's Wells, London and performed in the Lilian Baylis Studio. In 2010, Work No. 1020 was performed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh as part of the Fringe Festival and was most recently performed on 21 June 2011 in the main theatre at Sadler's Wells, London.
Some of Creed's works use neon signs. In these cases, the title of the work usually indicates what the sign says. These pieces include Work No. 220, Don't Worry (2000) and Work No. 232, the whole world + the work = the whole world (2000), which was mounted on Tate Britain in London.
In 2011, Creed gave work to the UK Registered Charity the Environmental Justice Foundation (1088128). A run of 20 t-shirts was made featuring his Work No. 531, all of which were hand screen printed in London and individually numbered on the inside neck. They are available from the charity.
Creed continues to exhibit work internationally and regularly does talks and plays live with his band.
Creed's visual work is represented by Hauser & Wirth, Gavin Brown's enterprise and Galleria Lorcan O'Neill Roma . His music is published by Novello & Co, part of the Music Sales Group. He works with the record label Moshi Moshi.
"I don't know what art is"
"I wouldn't call myself an artist"
In an interview published in the book Art Now: Interviews with Modern Artists (2002), Creed explains that he used to 'make paintings' but never liked having to decide what to paint. He decided to stop making paintings and instead to think about what it meant, and why he wanted to make things. He says:
|“||The only thing I feel like I know is that I want to make things. Other than that, I feel like I don’t know. So the problem is in trying to make something without knowing what I want. [...] I think it’s all to do with wanting to communicate. I mean, 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.||”|
Creed says that he makes art works not as part of an academic exploration of 'conceptual' art, but rather from a wish to connect with people, 'wanting to communicate and wanting to say hello'. The work is therefore primarily emotional:
|“||To me it’s emotional. Aye. To me that’s the starting point. I mean, I do it because I want to make something. I think that’s a desire, you know, or a need. I think that I recognise that I want to make something, and so I try to make something. But then you get to thinking about it and that’s where the problems start because you can’t help thinking about it, wondering whether it’s good or bad. But to me it’s emotional more than anything else.||”|
Creed's work is often a small intervention in the world, making use of existing materials or situations rather than bringing new material into the world.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
"Martin Creed" Galleria Lorcan O'Neill Roma, Rome, Italia
"Martin Creed" MALI, Lima, Peru
"Work No. 268," Pavement Gallery, Manchester, England
"Work No. 1059," Scotsman Steps, Edinburgh, Scotland
"Martin Creed: Works," MARCO, Vigo, Spain
"Things/Cosas," Sala Alcala 31, Madrid, Spain
"Martin Creed: Collected Works," Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Canada
"Sightings: Martin Creed," Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas TX
"Mothers," Hauser & Wirth, London, England
"Martin Creed: Work No. 409," Southbank Centre Chorus Festival, London, England
"Down Over Up," Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
"Ballet: Work No. 1020," (Part of Edinburgh Festival) Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland
The Common Guild, Glasgow, Scotland
Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, Switzerland
Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima, Japan (Travelling Exhibition)
"Work No. 975," Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland
Artsonje Center, Seoul, Korea (Travelling Exhibition)
"Martin Creed" Galleria Lorcan O'Neill Roma, Rome, Italia
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, England (Travelling Exhibition)
"Feelings," Hessel Museum of Art and CCS Galleries, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson NY
Hauser & Wirth Coppermill, London, England
"I Like Things," Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan, Italy
Hauser & Wirth Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
"Martin Creed"s Variety Show," Tate Modern, London, England
"Work No. 409," Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, England (Permanent Installation)
Hauser & Wirth, London, England
"The whole world + the work = the whole world," Centre for Contemporary Art, Udjadowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland
Kunsthalle Bern, Berne, Switzerland
"Work No. 289," The British School, Rome, Italy
"Art Now: Martin Creed," Tate Britain, London, England
Selected Group Exhibitions
"Artists Rooms," Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, England
"ILLUMInations," Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
"Open House," Singapore Biennale, Singapore
"Summer Collection Display," Tate St Ives, Cornwall, England
"8½: A Selection of works from the exhibitions organized by the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi from 2003 to the present," Stazione Leopolda, Florence, Italy
Notes and references
- Martin Creed at MALI
- Martin Creed at Hauser & Wirth
- Martin Creed – Martin Creed's own website, with some artworks, texts and news
- Martin Creed at Johnen + Schöttle
- Artkrush.com interview with Martin Creed (April 2006)
- Martin Creed performance video from Tate Britain's website
- Martin Creed at Fondazione Nicola Trussardi
- Make me Reality Printed Words based on Work No.394 by Martin Creed
- Martin Creed at Tate St Ives Martin Creed's contribution to the summer show at Tate St Ives from the TateShots blog
- Martin Creed at Kadist Art Foundation