Tracey Emin

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Every era of great artists comes with its fair share of hell raisers, for the 20th century that hell raiser was Tracey Emin. The self-proclaimed wild child of the art world has held some of the strangest exhibitions where her displayed work has provided the viewer with an insight into the weird and wild world of Emin herself. Her art embodies her own emotions laid bare, and the result is a look into the life Emin. What one finds is a gifted artist whose work is a reflection of her own life comprising of the good, bad, and downright ugly.

Tracey Emin was born on July 3, 1963 in Croydon, London to working parents. Growing up in a rough neighbourhood exposed her to childhood abuse and trauma which was contextualized vividly in her work. Every piece of Emin’s depicts some memory of her life, no matter how traumatic it was. It is her way of communicating with the viewer and she doesn’t hold back from displaying every detail. Emin’s volatile relationship with Billy Childish triggered a wave of disruptive behavior patterns which are still present today. It was an intense relationship, which resulted in many of Emin’s greatest works like To Meet my Past and I’ve Got it All. So inhabited is Emin’s artistic ideology that she chose to even depict her abortion and miscarriage into art, something so private which was told to the world via her art. Emin’s style comprises of using real life objects like mattresses, tables, carpets (pretty much everything she can get her hands on) to using fabrics and photographic imagery to using the normal painting canvas. However Emin mostly prefers using objects to make a setting which is ultimately her work.

Emin’s most controversial work, which ultimately won her the Turner prize, was titled My Bed. Displayed at the famous Tate Gallery in London, My Bed was basically Emin’s real bed complete with stained bed sheets, cigarette buds, wine bottles thrown on the floor, and stained under garments. It caused a huge uproar in the sense that many viewers claimed how the portrayal of such intimate unhygienic personal items could a) even be displayed and b) go on to win the Turner prize. Not to mention it was eventually sold as well for £2.54 million. There is a strange level of intimacy which Emin allows the viewer to have when showing her work, each piece is personal and reveals an imperfect and vulnerable artist. At the same time Emin’s work is quite instrumental and has no boundaries. When she isn’t busy working on her art she still manages to stay in the news somehow, either it is someone famous like Elton John or Naomi Campbell who has purchased a Tracey Emin art work, or Emin herself is giving a drunken interview on live TV or crashing hotel rooms.

Emin remains a strong supporter of contemporary art, she has been very open about the fact that art doesn’t mean limiting to just painting, it can be anything and everything. From using photographic illustrations to real life objects to fabrics, sculptures and even wood, there is nothing one can’t use to tell a story according to Emin. In 2013, Emin added another prestigious recognition to her growing mantle – she was appointed the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

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