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b. 1963, United Kingdom

Tracey Emin Biography

Confessional, candid, challenging and poignant. These are some of the words commonly used to describe the works of Tracey Emin. Emin is most celebrated for her visualisation of universal contemporary experiences, drawn from her own personal memories, dreams and body. A modern-day Expressionist, her work encompasses painting, installation, sculpture, photography, embroidery, neon and drawing.

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Emin is remembered as one of the Young British Artists (YBAs)—a loose grouping of artists who became known for their nonconformist art and larger-than-life attitudes in the 1990s. Among her YBA contemporaries—including Damien Hirst and Jake and Dinos Chapman—Emin was close friends with Sarah Lucas, and in 1993 the two young artists opened a shop to sell their artworks. Emin's breakthrough, however, came from the works that, through their stark honesty to the point of provocation, deconstructed the border between life and art, and openly shared her personal experiences. Inside a tent, Emin appliquéd the names of every person she had shared a bed with from the time of her birth to the year 1995, thus creating Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995 (1995). Her most iconic work, My Bed (1998), is an installation of her bed from a depressive phase when she did not leave her bed for several days. Surrounding the unmade mattress are empty bottles, used condoms and tissues, which immortalises a particular moment in the artist's life with its loneliness, despair and private suffering intact. Emotionally powerful and outrageously frank, Emin's works redefined the ways in which a female artist could discuss herself—her life, her body—in public.

Often at the centre of Emin's work is the female nude, especially her own—a tendency that has led some critics to regard her oeuvre as feminist. Although the artist herself has somewhat denied association, her blunt exploration of the female body and sexuality reflect the feminist belief that a woman can define her own sexuality. Between 2009 and 2010, Emin collaborated with Louise Bourgeois in the last months of the famously feminist artist's life. In the resulting exhibition Do Not Abandon Me (2011), the autobiographical paintings showed the two artists engaging in different aspects of their lives, from Emin's traumatic memories to Bourgeois' experience as a mother. In relation to the use of the female body in her work, Emin reflected in a conversation with Ocula Magazine that 'I know my body better than anyone else. I am my best model; it makes it really different that I am the woman because I am not viewing my body with a sexual gaze but with an understanding one.'

Emin was born in London in 1963 and grew up in the seaside town of Margate. She was inspired by the expressive qualities of JMW Turner and Egon Schiele from an early age, and she closely studied their styles as a student. Returning to London, she graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in painting. Over her long career, Emin has exhibited in the UK, Holland, Germany, Japan, Australia and the United States. Her work has been subject to several survey exhibitions, including her first major retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2008); Hayward Gallery, London (2011) and Turner Contemporary, Margate (2012). Cited as a national treasure by the Guardian in 2015, Emin represented Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale and Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the visual arts in 2013. Emin currently lives and works in England and France.

Born 1963 in London, where she lives and works, Tracey Emin studied at the Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art. She has exhibited in numerous international galleries and institutions, including the Hayward Gallery in London, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen. Her works have also been included in a number of international group exhibitions in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Japan, Australia, the United States and Chile.

In 2007, Tracey Emin represented Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale. In 2008 she held her first retrospective exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. This major collection also toured to the Centro de Arte Contemporaneao in Malaga and the Kunstmuseum in Bern. She was elected to the Royal Academy in 2007, and bestowed an honorary doctorate by the University of Kent in the same year. In 2013 she was awarded a CBE for services to the arts.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018


Tracey Emin Featured Artworks

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Something Good by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminSomething Good, 2013Polymer gravure etching on Somerset White 300gsm paper,
28.8 x 23.4 cm (incl frame)
Dellasposa Gallery Enquire
The Chopping Board by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminThe Chopping Board, 2019Acrylic on canvas
182.6 x 214.2 x 3.7 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
Self-Portrait, 12.11.01 (For Parkett 63) by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminSelf-Portrait, 12.11.01 (For Parkett 63), 2001Unique colour print from original Polaroid
20.4 x 19.9 cm
Parkett Contact Gallery
what Ever happened I Knew you Loved me by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey Eminwhat Ever happened I Knew you Loved me, 2019Acrylic on canvas
152.4 x 152.1 x 4.8 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
An Insane Desire For You by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminAn Insane Desire For You, 2019Acrylic on canvas
183.2 x 183 x 3.5 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
I Can't Believe How much How much I Loved You by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminI Can't Believe How much How much I Loved You, 2012Neon (coral pink and clear blue cross out)
122.6 x 185.2 x 5 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
Always There by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminAlways There, 2018acrylic on canvas
20.3 x 20.3 x 1.8 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
The Ghost of Me by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminThe Ghost of Me, 2018gouache on paper
10 x 14.6 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery

Tracey Emin Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Tales from the Colony Room at Dellasposa Gallery, London
Open Now
16 September–20 December 2020 Group Exhibition Tales from the Colony Room Dellasposa Gallery, LondonLondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, UNIQUE at Parkett, Zurich
Open Now
12 September–18 December 2020 Group Exhibition UNIQUE Parkett, Zurich Exhibition SpaceZurich Exhibition Space
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, (SELF) PORTRAITS at Parkett, Zurich
Closed
22 February–30 September 2020 Group Exhibition (SELF) PORTRAITS Parkett, Zurich Exhibition SpaceZurich Exhibition Space

Tracey Emin Represented By

Xavier Hufkens contemporary art gallery in 6 rue St-Georges, Brussels, Belgium Xavier Hufkens Brussels

Tracey Emin In Ocula Magazine

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Frieze Sculpture 2019: See the Contemporary Art in London’s Regent's Park Ocula Insight Frieze Sculpture 2019: See the Contemporary Art in London’s Regent's Park By Ocula IGTV

For three months, Frieze Sculpture (3 July–6 October) transforms Regent's Park, London, into an open gallery with sculptures by artists from all over the world. This year's edition is again curated by Clare Lilley, director of programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park since 1992 and curator of Frieze Sculpture since 2012. This video, created for...

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In Memory of a Free Public: Harbour Arts Sculpture Park Ocula Feature In Memory of a Free Public: Harbour Arts Sculpture Park By Hera Chan, Hong Kong

It was at Tamar Park that the initial sit-ins took place around the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, sparking the Umbrella Movement in 2014. Thousands of students advocated for universal suffrage in the response to electoral reforms enacted on Hong Kong by China's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. It was here, on 26 September...

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The most searched artists on Ocula now Ocula Photolog The most searched artists on Ocula now

A selection of this week's most searched artists on Ocula.com 

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Tracey Emin In Related Press

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Paper work – the British Museum shows off its collection of contemporary drawings Related Press Paper work – the British Museum shows off its collection of contemporary drawings 4 November 2019, Apollo Magazine

Anish Kapoor, Louise Bourgeois, Rachel Whiteread, Gerhard Richter. These may not be names that spring to mind when you think of the British Museum, but they all have work filed away in its extensive archive of prints and drawings. 'Pushing Paper: Contemporary Drawing from 1970 to Now' lifts a lid on a lesser-known collection at a museum renowned...

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Frieze Sculpture 2018: the highlights Related Press Frieze Sculpture 2018: the highlights 4 July 2018, Wallpaper*

Between Wimbledon and the FIFA World Cup, there's been plenty of distractions from London's unusually Mediterranean weather of late.

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Tracey Emin on Being “Bombarded” By 2017, and Her Year of Honesty Ahead Related Press Tracey Emin on Being “Bombarded” By 2017, and Her Year of Honesty Ahead 11 December 2017, Vanity Fair

When someone talks about sharks at Art Basel Miami Beach, typically they're referring to powerful collectors and art dealers who swim through the annual art fair gobbling up everything they see. But when British artist Tracey Emin brought them up in a chat with me about her week at the beach, she was actually referring to the sea creatures. She's...

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'SHE': International women artists at Shanghai Long Museum West Bund Related Press 'SHE': International women artists at Shanghai Long Museum West Bund 26 September 2016, Art Radar Journal

Launched at the end of July 2016, SHE: International Women Artists Exhibition  at Shanghai Long Museum West Bund presents a collection of works by female artists that are, according to curator Wang Wei, 'gathered together not only by their gender, but also by the true creativity'. Exhibitions of women’s art have been...

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