Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin is a contemporary British artist known for her provocative and sexually explicit artwork. Read this biography to learn more about her childhood, life, works, achievements and timeline.

One of the most publicized, infamous British artists, Tracey Emin is widely acknowledged for her sexually graphic and highly provocative artworks. She uses her own life as the theme for her artistic creations, often exposing intimate and/or sexual details. This sensational autobiographical nature of her art form elevated her to stardom and created media frenzy. Some of her most controversial works include, ‘Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995’, ‘The Last Thing I Said to You is Don’t Leave Me Here’, ‘Feeling Pregnant III’ and ‘Every Part of Me Is Bleeding’. The recurring themes of her work include rape and abortion, two experiences which she draws from her own life. Though, most of her works were controversial, they never failed to attract audiences and her art also grasped the attention of celebrities like Elton John , George Michael, Naomi Campbell and Orlando Bloom, who are also ardent collectors of her work. She has also raised millions of Euros for noteworthy and charitable causes like AIDS support programs in Africa.
Childhood & Early Life

  • Tracey Emin was born in Croydon, South London and was raised in the seaside town of Margate along with her twin brother, Paul.

  • From 1980 to 1982, she attended the Medway College of Design, South England, where she became part of an English punk poetry performance group called ‘The Medway Poets’.

  • She worked as an administrator for ‘Hangman Books’, which specialized in children’s poetry. Her experience there instilled in her a passion for art and she chose it as a career.

  • In 1986, she graduated from Maidstone College of Art after studying printing. Thereafter, she moved to London.

  • In 1989, she graduated from the Royal College of Art with a Master of Arts degree in painting. She also studied philosophy for a brief period at the University of London.

Career
  • In 1993, she, along with her friend and fellow artist, Sarah Lucas, co-founded a store called ‘The Shop’. Together they sold their creations which also included T-shirts, ashtrays and other merchandise.

  • In November 1993, she held her first solo art exhibition, ‘My Major Retrospective’, at the White Cube gallery. Her works were basically inspired by her own experiences, which would later become one of her trademarks.

  • In 1995, she created a tent called ‘Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995’, on which she engraved the names of everyone she had an intimate relationship with.

  • In 1998, she released one of her most popular works, ‘The Bed’, a photograph of her bed stained with the body fluids of her and her partner. The following year it was exhibited at the famous, ‘Tate Gallery’.

  • In 1999, she uprooted a hut where she had previously spent time with boyfriend Carl Freedman and turned it into one of her artworks titled ‘The Last Thing I Said to You is Don’t Leave Me Here’. This was destroyed in 2004 in an accidental fire.

  • She organized a themed exhibition titled ‘Temple Of Diana’, which featured a series of drawings based on the life of Princess Diana.

  • From November 2002 to January 2003, her solo exhibition, ‘This Is Another Place’, was held at the Modern Art Oxford gallery.


  • In 2008, her first major retrospective exhibition at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, attracted around 40,000 visitors. The works showcased here included ‘My Bed’, ‘It’s Not the Way I Want to Die’, appliqued blankets, neon’s and other paintings.

  • In 2011, her biggest solo exhibition, ‘Love is What You Want’, was held at the Hayward Gallery in London. The exhibition displayed paintings, drawings, textiles, sculptures and videos that she had created all through her career.

  • She was chosen to design a limited edition poster for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Major Works
  • Her magnum opus, ‘Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995’, was purchased by Charles Saatchi and was showcased at the ‘Sensation Exhibition’ in 1997 at the Royal Academy of London. It was also showcased in Berlin and New York.

  • Created in 1998, ‘My Bed’ is a Turner Prize-nominated artwork, which was purchased by Charles Saatchi for 150,000 Euros and was displayed at the Saatchi Gallery at Country Hall, London.

Awards & Achievements
  • In 2007, she became the second woman in the UK to produce a solo show for the British Pavilion at the 52nd ‘Venice Biennale’, a major contemporary art exhibition held in Venice, Italy.

  • On March 29, 2007, she was conferred the title of ‘Royal Academician’ by the Royal Academy of Arts.

  • In 2013, BBC Radio 4 listed her as one of ‘the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom’.

  • In 2013, she was appointed as the ‘Commander of the Order of the British Empire’ at the New Year Honours, for her extensive contributions in the field of art.


Personal Life & Legacy
  • She had a troubled teenage life – was raped when she was around 13 and underwent an abortion at the age of 18.

  • In 1982, she began to date Billy Childish, an English artist whom she met while studying at Medway College of Design. Their relationship lasted until 1987.

  • She was romantically involved with Carl Freedman, writer and curator, during the mid-1990s.

  • In 2005, she wrote her autobiography, ‘Strangeland’, a collection of confessions and intimate experiences.

  • In January 2008, she set up a library in Uganda called the ‘Tracey Emin Library’.

  • In 2008, she donated her creation ‘I Promise To Love You’, a heart shaped neon artwork, which raised 220,000 Euros for a charity auction held by ‘The Global Fund’, an organization supporting African women and children affected with HIV/ AIDS.

Trivia
  • This Turner prize nominated British artist, known for her sexually explicit artwork, appeared drunk, sweared on national television and said she wanted to go home to her mother during an interview with Channel 4.


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