Kate Moss: the muse

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She has long been the supermodel of choice for fashion designers. But Marc Quinn is only the latest in an long line of contemporary artists who find inspiration in the icon who transcended Croydon. By Arifa Akbar

Ever since she made her debut as a skinny 14-year-old in Calvin Klein jeans, Kate Moss has been queen of the world's catwalks and glossy fashion magazine covers.

Now she has another crown: the most popular artist's muse of modern times. Lucian Freud, Banksy, Chuck Close, Alex Katz, Gary Hume and Stella Vine, among others, have been captivated by her and she has even drawn herself in lipstick.

Yesterday, Marc Quinn's life-size gold sculpture of the 34-year-old model joined the collection of artworks inspired by Moss.

Quinn's statue was unveiled as part of "Statuephilia", a British Museum exhibition of contemporary art. The metallic Moss, Siren, is thought to be the largest gold statue since the time of ancient Egypt. The 50kg solid 18-carat gold statue, insured for £10m, was created by Quinn as part of a series featuring the model. His 2006 sculpture, Sphinx, featured Ms Moss in another yoga position. Siren will be on display to the public at the museum from tomorrow until January.

Quinn, who hopes to show the image across the world, suggested she had an abstract appeal for artists. "This sculpture is about the abstractions that rule our lives, the desire for money, immortality, for beauty. Kate Moss is a cultural hallucination we have all agreed to create.

"She is the only person who has the ubiquity and silence that is required in an image of divinity, that has been created through time, so that we can project onto it," he said.

James Fox, co-curator of the display at the British Museum, agreed artists had become fascinated by the zeitgeist spirit she represents. "It's not about Kate Moss in its accuracy to her character. It's using her likeness that has become so iconic to explore broader themes, to make a familiar face unfamiliar," he said.

"What Quinn might be doing here is creating her in a cult-like form, in a solid-gold state, as a comment on celebrity culture and how it has mythologised Moss like a goddess, feverishly," he said.

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