In the DIY superhero action movie that opens tomorrow, Kick-Ass, the baddie is Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), a mob boss who could just as easily be a corporate lawyer, living in a Midtown penthouse full of, among other things, a rather impressive art collection. Aside from a pair of large, Warhol-ian prints of revolvers, and a few other bits and pieces, one very recognizable artwork gets a lot of screen time: Marc Quinn’s “Self” (pictured), a sculpture of which he has been making one edition every five years, which is made of five pints of his own blood frozen in the shape of his head.
As the final battle is about to start (spoiler? not really) Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) even hides behind the refrigerated display case that sits right in front of the elevator doors in D’Amico’s penthouse, like a really gruesome welcome mat.
Unlike just about everything else in the sequence, “Self” never gets destroyed. As art world legend has it (although this story has been disproven), the original Quinn blood sculpture, from 1991, melted when its owner, collector Charles Saatchi, was having his kitchen renovated and contractors unplugged his fridge (gross!). Is the work’s (or at least a well-made copy) inclusion in Kick-Ass meant as a critique of Quinn and the Young British Artists movement that he and Damien Hirst have become the figure-heads of, or is just a joke about the kind of blood-thirsty mobster D’Amico turns out to be that he would have an artwork made of blood in his home?