Tracey Emin (Croydon, 1963) is an English contemporary artist known for her autobiographical and confessional artwork (she uses her own personal history as the subject for her 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.
Known for her confrontational subject matter and portrayal of taboo subjects, Emin has used personal traumatic events such as unreported rape, public humiliation, sexism, botched abortions and alcoholism as her topics. Yet the nature of discussing taboo subjects can at first appear shocking, discussing her experiences as a female and her relationship with her body has been vital for a younger generation of women. She has used her own body as medium in self-portraits and performances. Therefore, her artworks enact self-mapping and self-commemorating through the possible healing and spiritual aspect of art. Emin's courage to be vulnerable and honest through her artwork collapses the edge between life and art, and has brought attention to the discrepancies between men and women's ability to critically and publically engage with topics such as alcoholism, gender roles, and, most controversially, sex.
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. 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.
For almost three decades Emin has been using neon consistently as a creative medium. The process of creating an art piece for her often begins with coming up with a message, usually a thought or a feeling. This is then followed by bending light tubes to assume the curves and profile of what has been written. Erin's work stands out because she has chosen to use her own handwriting, which is rather daring and a way to stamp personality and individuality in all pieces created. It is ironic how the artist uses simple every day phrases to provoke feelings and thoughts in the audience. By expressing her own emotions, thoughts, and aspirations, she connects to the soul of the observers. By incorporating poetry, mystery, color and light into an art piece, the artist immortalizes herself in the work she does.
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