Biography of Tracey Emin
Controversial and provocative, Tracey Emin was never just the talk of the town but the talk of the tabloids too. Her antics may occasionally overshadow her arts practice, but her output of charged and searingly honest work has made her hugely-successful and immensely popular around the world.
Tracey Emin was born in Croydon in 1963 and studied fashion at the University of Creative Arts where she met fellow artist Billy Childish. She obtained her M.A. from the Royal College of Art in 1989 and fell in with Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst and other members of the then emerging Y.B.A. Movement. Emin was by now producing personal and emotionally charged work often referencing her deeply troubled childhood—she was raped aged 13 and later suffered two traumatic abortions, including one when she was just 18 years old.
Emin had her first solo show in 1994 entitled “My Major Retrospective” at the White Cube art gallery in London having met the gallerist, Jay Joplin sometime earlier. She is fearlessly brave in displaying the intimate details of her life, and in 1997 in the show “Sensation” at the Royal Academy in London she famously exhibited her work Everyone I have Ever Slept With 1963-1995, featuring a blue tent with the embroidered names of all her sexual partners.
Shortlisted for the Turner Prize, Tracey Emin also released her notorious work My Bed, 1997 which received significant media interest. Known for appearing drunk and unruly on live television, Emin has toned down her behavior in recent years and is enjoying her respectability, having been made a professor of drawing at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
Alongside Charles Saatchi, Elton John is a big collector of Tracey Emin’s work, and in 2012 she was selected to create a limited edition print for London’s 2012 Olympic Games. Emin is highly skilled in a range of media including, painting, sculpture, photography, film, and textile. Her willingness to confront shocking personal issues, such as her abuse as a child, and the difficult experiences of being a woman, give her work a confessional aspect which only enhances her intimacy with the viewer.
In 2002 Tracey Emin had a solo show at the Haus der Kunst in Munich and that same year had a show entitled “Ten Years” at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In 2013 she was awarded the title Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to the arts. In 2007 Tracey Emin was chosen to represent the UK at the 52nd Venice Biennale and her exhibition “Tracey Emin: Borrowed Light” was summed up by the artist as being both “Pretty and hard-core.” Highly regarded around the world, she has had many international shows including in Rome, New York, Istanbul, and many others. In 2011 a major survey of her work was held at London’s Hayward Gallery for which she made a new series of outside sculptures. In 2008 she had a twenty-year retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art which travelled on to Spain and Switzerland.