Tracey Emin is a British artist known for her poignant works that mine autobiographical details through painting, drawing, photography, video, sculpture, and installation. She is a prominent member of the Young British Artists who rose to fame in the late 1980s. Emin’s seminal works Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995 (1995) and My Bed (...1998)—her own unmade, messy bed installed at the Tate Gallery—provocatively contributed to feminist discourse with the raw, confessional nature of her art. There should be something revelatory about art,” she reflected. “It should be totally creative and open doors for new thoughts and experiences.”
Tracey Emin was born on July 3, 1963 in Croydon, South London, England, to parents of British Romani and Turkish Cypriot descent. Emin grew up in Margate, in the Thanet district of East Kent, England, along with twin brother Paul. Her father owned the Hotel International in Margate, but when the business failed, the family suffered financially. She had some troubled times during her adolescence including being raped at the age of 13, an event that influenced much of her later artwork. Emin became pregnant when she was 18, and underwent an abortion.
After a troubled childhood and adolescence, Emin decided to study fashion at the Medway College of Design in 1980 before later deciding to pursue a career in art. She graduated from Maidstone College of Art in 1986 and moved to London, where she earned a Master of Arts degree in painting from the Royal College of Art in 1989.
In 1993, with fellow artist Sarah Lucas, Emin opened "The Shop" in Bethnal Green, located on London's East End. There, she sold her pieces and asked for investments in her artwork, and soon met her future art dealer, Jay Jopling. In 1994, Emin had her first solo show, "My Major Retrospective," at the White Cube art gallery in London. The autobiographical exhibit consisted of photographs, pictures of earlier paintings and other personal objects, including a pack of cigarettes an uncle was holding when he was killed in a car crash. This public display of Emin's intimate life details soon became a trademark of her work. Emin’s artworks have a private immediacy and often sexually provocative attitude that relate with tradition of feminist discourse. The radical artist re-appropriates conventional handicraft techniques – or ‘women’s work’ – with symbolic purpose. Emin’s art resonates with the feminist notion of the ‘personal as political’. Emin produces work in a variety of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, film, photography, neon text and sewn appliqué. Emin's 1995 installation piece Everyone I have Ever Slept With 1963-1995, consists of a blue tent appliqued with several names in needlework. The piece was later shown at the 1997 Sensation exhibit at the Royal Academy in London, the controversial YBA's exhibition which was met with mixed reactions. Emin also released several autobiographical films focusing on her troubled childhood and teenage years. She's also written several books, most notably a 2005 memoir titled Strangeland.
She cites Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele as early inspirations for her expressive style of self-representation. Emin went on to received her MA from the Royal College of Art in London, where she is now a Royal Academician and Honorary Doctorate. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1999, nominated for the piece My Bed – a readymade installation, consisting of her own unmade dirty bed, in which she had spent several weeks drinking, smoking, eating, sleeping and having sexual intercourse while undergoing a period of severe emotional flux. The artwork featured used condoms and blood-stained underwear. Furthermore her success has continued, as Emins was Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2013 andshe was appointed as a professor of drawing at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. The artists latest 2019 solo exhibition is A Fortnight of Tears at the White Cube Bermondsey in London.The exhibition explores the artist’s own memories and emotions arising from loss, pathos, anger and love. The solo exhibition includes sculpture, neon, painting, film, photography and drawing by the artist, as well as fifty double-hung self portraits from an on-going series taken at different moments during the artist’s periods of insomnia. Emin currently lives and works in London, United Kingdom. The artist’s works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Goetz Collection in Munich, among others.
SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2011 Love is What You Want, Hayward Gallery, LondonDo Not Abandon Me, Hauser & Wirth, London (with Louise Bourgeois) 2010 Praying To A Different God, Amanda Love Art, SydneyWalking With Tears, Royal Academy of Art, LondonWhy Be Afraid?, Galleria Lorcan O'Neil, Rome 2009 Only God Knows I'm Good, Lehmann Maupin, New YorkTracey Emin: Those Who Suffer Love , White Cube, LondonTracey Emin 20 Years, Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern 2008 Tracey Emin 20 Years, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, MálagaLiverpool Cathedral Commission, LiverpoolTracey Emin: 20 Years, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
2007 Tracey Emin: You Left Me Breathing, Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA.Tracey Emin: Borrowed Light, British Pavillion, 52nd International Biennale di Venezia