Last August, Nathaniel Mary Quinn wrote a powerful essay in Vogue about his childhood and the tragic experiences that shaped him. He described growing up in the Chicago projects, trading drawings for protection, about leaving for boarding school on scholarship a month before his mom unexpectedly died in the night, and about returning for Thanksgiving later that year to find that his father and four brothers had left without a word, abandoning him. He hasn’t seen them since.
Quinn, who is 41, moved to New York in the early 2000s to attend New York University, where he received his MFA. He went on to teach at-risk youth while, at night, he painted in the second bedroom of the apartment he shared with his now wife. Today, they own a two-family building where Quinn works in a paint-splattered space lined with grids of tape. The source material for his paintings—fashion ads, art books, pictures printed from the various corners of the internet—are taped up in clusters throughout.
Next week, Quinn, who is 41, will participate in a group exhibition at Gagosian’s Grosvenor Hill gallery in London, “Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now,” which pairs a variety of contemporary artists with the Dutch master’s storied Self-Portrait with Two Circles(ca. 1665), on loan through English Heritage.
Quinn, who shows with Rhona Hoffman in Chicago and Almine Rech in Brussels, and who had a two-part show at Salon 94 in New York last year, is coming off of his first museum exhibition, which ran into March at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Wisconsin. His work is held by the Whitney Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and a number of other prominent public collections.