Martin Creed

Posted on January 22, 2011


Martin Creed was born in Wakefield and brought up in Glasgow. He studied art at the Slade School of Art at University College London from 1986 to 1990.

Since 1987, Creed has numbered each of his works, and most of his titles relate in a very direct way to the piece’s substance. 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 isWork No. 200, half the air in a given space (1998), which is a room with enough inflated balloons in it for them to contain half the air in it.

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. 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. Artist Jacqueline Crofton 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”.[1] In 2006 Martin Creed presented an extensive exhibition with sculptures, videos and performances titled I Like Things with Nicola Trussardi Foundation in Milan.

Some of Creed’s works use neon signs. In these cases, the title of the work 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 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.”




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