Jonathan Monk was born in Leicester (UK) in 1979. He graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1991, he now lives and works in Berlin.
Jonathan Monk's work is pervaded by questions that focus on artistic identity and the creation of art. He challenges how references are used in contemporary art while considering his own personal relationship to history and the past.
Exploring notions of authorship, Monk is most well known for appropriating the work of other artists and using it for his own purposes. He views true originality as an impossibility, and draws upon material that has already been conceived of as a basis for his own artworks. However, Monk still understands his own work as novel. As he explains, “I always think that art is about ideas, and surely the idea of an original and a copy of an original are two very different things.”
Monk has taken inspiration from a variety of popular artists and writers, including Sol LeWitt and Ed Ruscha. In 2013 Monk exhibited his film, Crackers, based on Ruscha's own photobook of an identical name. Collecting Ruscha's books from all over the world, Monk's video testifies to his personal engagement with contemporary art, as well as considering whether there are artistic connotations attributed to the act of collecting. Another recent creation was based on Jeff Koons's Rabbit (1986). Monk re-appropriated this iconic image in order to comment on the status of contemporary sculpture in the art market; he conceived and created a series of five stainless steel versions of the rabbit slowly collapsing, aptly entitling his piece The Deflated Inflated (2009).
Nevertheless, his work does not only revolve around themes of origination and creation, but considers sentimentality. Monk draws on his own history in the photographic series with In Search For Gregory Peck (1997), which shows a slideshow of images taken by the artist's father in 1950s America. This personal touch is reiterated in a sequence of images based on the alternative homes of his mother and sister in The Gap Between My Mother and My Sister (1998).
Monk considers a variety of different materials; he uses sculpture, photography, installation, and also film. No matter what the medium is, his work is continuously inundated with references to the past, which are used by the artist to create new and innovative meanings.