Mark Wallinger

Biography of Mark Wallinger

Turner Prize winning conceptual artist Mark Wallinger is in the foremost pantheon of contemporary artists. A lifelong supporter of the Labour Party, he is a vocal opponent of jingoism and nationalism, and highlights issues involving class, identity, politics, and art history.


Born in Chigwell in 1959, Mark Wallinger studied at Chelsea School of Art before taking a M.A. at Goldsmiths College in London. He later worked there as a tutor until 1986. A little older than the majority of the YBAs, he nevertheless was very much involved in the movement, and exhibited his work at Charles Saatchi’s Gallery and in the Royal Academy’s landmark “Sensation” show in 1997.


In 1999 he had the honor of being the first artist commissioned to produce a piece for the empty fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square. Ecce Homo, was a white marble resin sculpture of a life-sized Jesus Christ figure wearing a gilded crown of barbed wire. Moving and haunting, the work made all the victorious statues in Trafalgar Square appear pompous.


Lending his hand to all manner of styles including painting, sculpture, and installation, Mark Wallinger refuses to have just one signature style: “My identity as an artist is rather elusive, and I prefer it to be that way because it’s more interesting. Surely people must get too bored doing the same thing, time after time.”


Famously in his work State Britain, 2006, he recreated the peace protestor, Brian Haw’s public stand outside Parliament Square, installing it in Tate Britain’s Duveen Hall. In front of the banners and anti-war posters of the installation, he placed a black line to symbolize the controversial 1-mile exclusion zone around the original Parliament Square area. The work examined the role of the individual within society, and won him the Turner Prize in 2007.


Mark Wallinger’s enormous sculpture, White Horse at Ebbsfleet, 2013 connected contemporary art with history and national identity. Hugely-popular, the work is believed to have brought about a sea-change in how public art was perceived in England.


In 2000 he was given a retrospective entitled “Credo” at Tate Liverpool. In 2001 he represented Britain at the 49th Venice Biennale. His video work, Sleeper, 2007 featured the artist wondering around the contemporary art gallery Neue Nationalgalerie in Germany dressed in a bear costume. In 2009 he curated the exhibition “Mark Wallinger: The Russian Linesman, Frontiers, Borders and Thresholds” at the Hayward Gallery in London.

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