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Art

It's Art: Artist Sculpts His Own Dead Body

Jeremy Millar brings his 'Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man (The Willows)' to the Turner Contemporary.

by Emerson Rosenthal
28 January 2015, 9:45pm

Jeremy Millar's Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man (The Willows) (2011). Photo: Stephen White, via. Thumbnail via the artist's Twitter

Every now and then, The Creators Project comes across an artwork that surprises and delights us every bit as much as it confuses us and otherwise has us begging for answers. This is art that defies conventions, challenges sensibilities, and breaks down barriers between comprehension and critique. You might like it—you might not "get it." But we do. Turn on, take a deep breath, and just remember: It's art!

The buzz around self-portraiture is on full display at the Turner Contemporary gallery in England, and one artist is taking it lying down. Self is an ongoing exhibition that aims to become "a frame through which self-portraiture is re-evaluated in the 21st century, sparking conversations on history, celebrity, collecting, gender, mortality and contemporary approaches," and includes works by Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Louise Bourgeois, and others. For British artist and tutor Jeremy Millar, however, the show presented the opportunity to put a morbid spin on things, so that's what he did: Millar's contribution is Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man (The Willows), a hyperrealistic imagining of the artist's own dead body. 

Of the 2011 sculpture, Millar writes "As the title may suggest to some, this work is an assemblage of two prior works: the photograph Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man (1840) by Hippolyte Bayard, and 'The Willows' (1907), a short story by Algernon Blackwood. In this story (considered by HP Lovecraft the greatest supernatural story ever written) a man is found drowned and marked with small funnel-shaped indentations—'That awful mark!'—made by an unknown supernatural being."

So while the work itself might be a bit more fantasy-influenced than, say, Richard Prince's Instagram Paintings, we wouldn't be caught dead taking a #Museumselfie at the Turner without it.

H/t Artnet News

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