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 Tracey Emin  (1963 - )

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Lived/Active: England      Known for: installation, video art, painting, drawing, conceptual

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Ad Code: 2
Tracey Emin
from Auction House Records.
My Bed
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

A British artist known for her conceptual sculpture, especially works that reveal intimate details of her personal life,Tracey Emin became Great Britain's representative at the 52nd International Venice Biennale, 2007.  She was raised in Margate, a town in Kent, England where her father, an ethnic Turkish Cypriot, owned the Hotel International.  When it failed, the family suffered a drastic change in circumstances, complicated by the fact that the father had two families and was not married to her mother.

She studied fashion at Medway College of Design (1980-1982), and there met Billy Childish, an expelled student, and the two had a relationship for several years.  She later said that one of the best experiences of her life was her enrollment in 1984 at Maidstone Art College and the courses she took there in printmaking.

In 1987 she moved to London to study at the Royal College of Art, where she earned an MA in painting, but she did not find this to be a positive experience and later destroyed all her paintings from this period.  She was much influenced by Edvard Munch and Egon Schielethough she has described this time as a very negative experience. She also studied philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London.

In 1993 Emin opened a shop with artist Sarah Lucas, which they called The Shop and where they sold their artwork, T-shirts, and ash trays with the image of Damien Hirst at the bottom.  She had her first solo show in 1994 in London at the White Cube gallery, known for contemporary art. 

In the mid-1990s she formed a relationship with Carl Freedman, a collaborator with Damien Hirst, and the couple toured the United States together, driving from New York to San Francisco.  To finance the trip, she gave readings from her autobiographical book, Exploration of the Soul, to finance the trip.

A work that brought Tracey Emin much notoriety was her installation Everyone I have Ever Slept With 1963-1995.  Freedman curated the show, which was called Minky Manky and it was held at the South London Gallery.  "It was a blue tent, appliquéd with the names of everyone she has slept with. These included sexual partners, plus relatives she slept with as a child, her twin brother, and her two aborted children. Although often talked about as a shameless exhibition of her sexual conquests, it was rather a piece about intimacy in a more general sense, although the title invites misinterpretation. The needlework which is integral to this work was used by Emin in a number of her other pieces. This piece was later bought by Charles Saatchi and included in the successful 1997 Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy of London; it then toured to Berlin and New York."

ARTFORUM, Summer 2007

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