Artist
Tracey Emin
English artist

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Tracey Emin
English artist
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Birth Date

July 03, 1963

svdgrift's picture

Contributor

She might be famous for not making her bed, but Tracey is a talented painter with a troubled past.

Before she was really really famous, Tracey lived in Margate, a small seaside town in the southeast of England. She lived together with her mother and twin brother Paul. Her dad wasn’t really around during their childhood. Ladies' man Enver Emin never married Tracey’s mother because he already had a wife and kids. He would occasionally turn up out of nowhere and take them for a picnic. One Christmas he showed up at their home dressed as Father Christmas with lots of presents. For years, Tracey and Paul thought Santa was this dark exotic Turkish man.

At the age of 13 Tracey got raped. The same thing happened to a lot of girls, so of course no-one thought of it as rape. "A lot of girls had sex against their will and it wasn't called rape, it was called 'being broken into' and you'd go to school and you'd say 'Yeah, I was broken into last night’." The boys who did this were usually around 17 years old and thought it was totally normal which is insanely horrifying. 

After high school, Tracey studied fashion at the Medway College of Design. That’s where she met boyfriend Billy Childish who convinced her to join the The Medway Poets, a punk-based performance art group. After graduating she moved to London to study painting. What she didn't know is that she was pregnant with twins. She decided to have an abortion, which hugely impacted her life. This was one of the reasons she destroyed all the artworks she made in grad school and decided never to paint again. That wasn't the last time her artwork got destroyed though. In 2004 the warehouse where her work from the Saatchi collection was stored, burned down. In particular, her most famous work Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995 was destroyed. During that same year a work she made for her friend Kate Moss was discovered dumped in a dumpster in east London. Ouch.

But anyway, back to the '90’s! In 1993 Tracey and her friend Sarah Lucas opened a shop in London on the now famous Brick Lane. Today its THE ultimate gentrified hipster paradise, back then nearly every shop was boarded up. The girls picked a shop and painted it magnolia (aka beige), since everything in the art world was already white and pure and boring. At the store they sold stuff like fun shirts and ashtrays with Damien Hirst’s face on them. (LOL.) The Shop was open from 11am to 6pm Tuesday to Friday, and from 11pm on Saturdays all the way through to Sunday afternoon. This was a pretty good move since most pubs close at 2 a.m., it gave east London somewhere to hang out and get really wasted. This one night, Tracey went to a Gilbert & George show and asked a random guy smoking a cigarette for a light. He said he didn't have one and continued being a dickhead. Afterwards she found out the dickhead was famous painter David Hockney! Tracey and Sarah drew dozens of drawings of David smoking and pinned them to their chicken-wire altar. Eventually their store would get immensely popular, with art collectors getting right off the plane from New York and coming to party Saturday night.

Tracey's breakthrough to the big public came in 1997 when she appeared on TV for a discussion about that year’s Turner Prize. People mostly remembered her because she was really, really drunk on live television. She left stating she would rather be with her friends and was gonna phone her mum. Tracey didn't feel comfortable being in this group discussion, with cis-white males in suits being all pseudo-intellectual and laughing about her being drunk. I don't blame her! Ironically, two years later Tracey herself was shortlisted for the Turner Prize.

Way more recently Tracey got married, to a rock. You heard me. During the ceremony she wore her father’s funeral shroud as a wedding dress. It's supposed to be some kind of spirituality thing. Just another interesting part of the piece of work that is Tracey Emin.



 

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin, CBE, RA (/ˈɛmɪn/; born 3 July 1963) is an English artist known for her autobiographical and confessional artwork. Emin produces work in a variety of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, film, photography, neon text and sewn appliqué. Once the "enfant terrible" of the Young British Artists in the 1980s, Tracey Emin is now a Royal Academician of the Royal Academy of Arts.

In 1997, her work Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, a tent appliquéd with the names of everyone the artist had ever shared a bed with was shown at Charles Saatchi's Sensation exhibition held at the Royal Academy in London. The same year, she gained considerable media exposure when she swore repeatedly in a state of drunkenness on a live discussion programme called The Death of Painting on British television.

In 1999, Emin had her first solo exhibition in the United States at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, entitled Every Part of Me's Bleeding. Later that year, she was a Turner Prize nominee and exhibited 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.

Emin is also a panellist and speaker: she has lectured at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney (2010), the Royal Academy of Arts (2008), and the Tate Britain in London (2005) about the links between creativity and autobiography, and the role of subjectivity and personal histories in constructing art. Emin's covers a variety of different media, including needlework and sculpture, drawing, video and installation, photography and painting.

In December 2011, she was appointed Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy; with Fiona Rae, she is one of the first two female professors since the Academy was founded in 1768.

Emin lives in Spitalfields, east London.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Tracey Emin.