Tracey Emin


Birth name: Tracey Karima Emin

Born: 3 July 1963 Croydon, Surrey, England

Nationality: English

Education: Medway College of Design 1980–1982, Maidstone Art College 1984, Royal College of Art 1987

Represented by White Cube London and Lehmann Maupin New York


Tracey Emin was born in London in 1963 and grew up in Margate. She studied fine art at Maidstone College of Art, graduating in 1986, and then went on to the Royal College of Art in London. In 1993 with the artist Sarah Lucas she opened The Shop in the East End of London, selling work by both of them. Her first solo exhibition was the following year at White Cube Gallery, London. Believing it would be her last as well as first show, she titled it My Major Retrospective. From 1995-8 she ran her personal gallery in Waterloo Road, the Tracey Emin Museum. Since 1995 she has participated extensively in group exhibitions world wide and has had numerous solo exhibitions including I Need Art Like I Need God at the South London Gallery in 1997, and most recently Sobasex at the Sagacho Exhibition Space, Tokyo, and Every Part of Me's Bleeding at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York.


Tracey Emin's is a confessional art, manifested in a rich variety of media and unprecedented in its frankness and the unsparing nature of her self examination. Her work is frequently highly confrontational, but is redeemed by its honesty, good humour, self-awareness, poetry and ultimate innocence. Although she deals relentlessly with the minutiae of her own life she touches largely on issues that are common to all, not least sexuality, mortality, and the creation of meaning in life. She shares with prominent artists of the past a preoccupation with what it is to be an artist.


Her work takes the form of mixed media constructions, installations, paintings, drawings, written texts, embroidery collage, live performance, neon signs and photographs. In 1995 she made Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995 a work that almost at once became an icon of contemporary British art. Often misunderstood, it is a small tent embroidered on the inside with the names of everyone Emin had literally slept with, including her twin brother in the womb, parents and comatose friends, as well as lovers. Exploration of the Soul 1994, was the first of Emin's published texts, a poetic but frequently harrowing account of her sexual history. In 1996, she made the first of a series of neon pieces described by the critic Neal Brown as 'molten authography [in] pure candyfloss coloured light'. One of the most admired aspects of Emin's practice has always been her drawing, her spare nervous line and her anguished, erotic imagery both having echoes of Egon Schiele and Edvard Munch, two of the artists she most admires.


She lives and works in London, England.