HomePage Artists

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.

Read More

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

View All (15)
I Can’t Let Go by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminI Can’t Let Go, 2007Embroidered cotton textile
33 x 33.5 cm
Richard Saltoun Gallery Contact Gallery
My Heart is with you Always by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminMy Heart is with you Always, 2015Offset lithograph
70 x 50 cm
Dellasposa Gallery Contact Gallery
Sex 26 25-11-07 Sydney by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminSex 26 25-11-07 Sydney, 2007Gouache on paper
21 x 29.7 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
Dark Face by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminDark Face, 2015Gouache on paper
305 x 406 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
You Forgot Who You Are by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminYou Forgot Who You Are, 2013Etching on Somerset soft white
37 x 40 cm
Dellasposa Gallery Contact Gallery
With You I Breathe by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminWith You I Breathe, 2010Warm white neon
30.7 x 180 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Detail of Love by Tracey Emin contemporary artwork
Tracey EminDetail of Love, 2020Neon
134 x 151.2 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

Tracey Emin Recent Exhibitions

View All (12)
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Lehmann Maupin Palm Beach at 440 S. County Road, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Closed
1 December 2020–28 February 2021 Group Exhibition Lehmann Maupin Palm Beach 440 S. County Road, Palm Beach, FloridaPalm Beach
Contemporary art exhibition, Tracey Emin, Detail of Love at 44 rue Van Eyck & 107 rue St-Georges, Brussels
Closed
30 October–19 December 2020 Tracey Emin Detail of Love 44 rue Van Eyck & 107 rue St-Georges, BrusselsVan Eyck
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Tales from the Colony Room at Dellasposa Gallery, London
Closed
16 September–20 December 2020 Group Exhibition Tales from the Colony Room Dellasposa GalleryLondon

Tracey Emin Represented By

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

Tracey Emin In Ocula Magazine

View All (9)
Tracey Emin to Help Birth New Munch Museum on October 22 Ocula News Tracey Emin to Help Birth New Munch Museum on October 22 Oslo, 28 May 2021

The Oslo museum's opening has endured a long labour, set back 18 months by construction delays and the pandemic.

Fade out copy.
Read More
Mega Collector Julia Stoschek and Daata Make More Digital Art Free Ocula News Mega Collector Julia Stoschek and Daata Make More Digital Art Free Online, 10 March 2021

The Julia Stoschek Collection and the online platform Daata are collaborating to present 112 time-based works by leading contemporary artists online, open to the public and free for all.

Fade out copy.
Read More
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 Editorial

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 insight takes a...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Tracey Emin In Related Press

View All (21)
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...

Fade out copy.
Read More
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.

Fade out copy.
Read More
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...

Fade out copy.
Read More
'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...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Tracey Emin In Video & Audio

Georgina Wimbush on Tracey Emin's 'Living under the Hunter's Moon' Related Video & Audio Georgina Wimbush on Tracey Emin's 'Living under the Hunter's Moon' 15 January 2021, White Cube

Georgina Wimbush, Director at White Cube, discusses Tracey Emin's exhibition Living Under the Hunters Moon at White Cube Mason's Yard. Tracey Emin Living Under the Hunters Moon 25 November 2020–13 February 2021

Fade out copy.
View More
Tracey Emin in Conversation with Kenny Schachter Related Video & Audio Tracey Emin in Conversation with Kenny Schachter 10 November 2020, Xavier Hufkens

Tracey Emin speaks to writer, curator and artist Kenny Schachter on the occasion of her exhibition Detail of Love at Xavier Hufkens, Brussels (30 October — 19 December 2020).

Fade out copy.
View More
Sign up to be notified when new artworks and exhibitions by Tracey Emin are added to Ocula.
Sign Up