Recent Articles
5 things to look out for in the Celeste Dupuy-Spencer edition
Close Look
5 things to look out for in the Celeste Dupuy-Spencer edition
Lindsay August-Salazar on her inspirations, influences and ideals
Meet the Artist
Lindsay August-Salazar – “Art has the capacity to expand my deeper drive and interest in human expression'
Colleen Blackard - 'I want to build worlds to share'
Artist to Watch
Colleen Blackard - 'From an early age I found it easier to communicate with gestures and pictures than with words'
Bepi Ghiotti on his photographs of rivers and mountains
Meet the Artist
Bepi Ghiotti - 'An artwork is never still although what it represents might seem like it is'
Catherine Opie tells us how she got this amazing shot
Q&A
Catherine Opie tells us how she shot this powerful photograph at the first ever women's march
Meet the Artist
Rey Zorro - 'When we went on holiday we’d put chairs on the beach to look for UFOs in the night sky. This was normal at home; we never spoke about it as being ‘out of this world’
Meet the people behind Assembly
Meet the Dealer
Meet the people behind Assembly - a new kind of gallery
The Artspace Art for Life Interview with Adam Clayton
How I Collect
The Artspace Art for Life Interview with Adam Clayton
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer on her new Artspace edition
Artist to Watch
'I was really trying to paint what it feels like to be living in the fall of human civilization' - Celeste Dupuy-Spencer on her powerful new Artspace edition
William Eric Brown on the latest Artspace auction
Meet the Artist
‘I’m most comfortable in that state of unknowing - is it real or imagined?’ - William Eric Brown
TM Davy on his benefit auction contribution
Meet the Artist
'Unhappy and happy flow back and forth like a tide making art. I’m working to be OK with that' – TM Davy
Anthony Goicolea on his new Artspace Edition
Meet the Artist
'I am most inspired by those weird transitional moments or in-between states where things undergo metamorphosis' - Anthony Goicolea
Jerry The Marble Faun on the latest Artspace Auction
Meet the Artist
‘It takes a lot of energy to tap into whatever is trapped inside the material - the process is like a releasing a spirit’ – Jerry The Marble Faun
Garrett Chingery on the latest Artspace auction
Meet the Artist
‘My interests include the relationship of one’s self to the world, surrealism and mystery’ - Garrett Chingery
Glennda Testone on the latest Artspace auction
Q&A
"We have an opportunity to not just 'return to normal' but to create a new normal" – Glennda Testone

Close Look

Tracey Emin's Heartbreakingly Erotic Art

By

Tracey Emin's Heartbreakingly Erotic Art
Tracey Emin's "I Can't Believe How Much You Loved Me" (2012)

Privacy is nonexistent in Tracey Emin’s universe. Her work focuses on sexual misadventures, heartbreak, masturbation, and childhood trauma, among other things that most people avoid discussing. The shockingly intimate nature of Emin’s extraordinarily honest work has put her at the forefront of contemporary art. Even if her unruly public appearances have occasionally overshadowed her more worthy achievements (Emin is only the second woman ever to be appointed professor at the Royal Academy), her 25-year-long career has produced art that is truly unforgettable. Here is a close look at the deeply unsettling and emotionally bare work of Tracey Emin, whose landmark first museum show in the United States—a survey of her neon works—has opened at MoCA North Miami

TAINTED LOVE 

My Major RetrospectiveAn installation shot from "My Major Retrospective" at White Cube

Emin’s childhood photographs—later exhibited as part of "My Major Retrospective" her first show at White Cube in 1993, which established her as one of the YBAs—show her as a happy little girl, but it wasn’t long before all that would change. At the age of 13, sexuality became a major part of Emin's life when she was raped by someone she knew. From then on, Emin was constantly thinking about what sex meant to her, and she would later go on to use art to exorcise her demons. Her 2004 film Top Spot, a semi-autobiographical account of a teenage girl’s life in Margate, Emin's hometown on the southeast coast of England, depicts some of the horrors she faced as a child. 

BED, WRATH, AND BEYOND

Everyone I Have EverEveryone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995 (1995)

Emin studied painting at both Maidstone Art College and London's Royal College of Art, where she earned her M.A. in 1989, but gained more early accolades for her drawing, which from early on exhibited raw emotions. In her 1995 series "From the Week of Hell," Emin used drawings done in a spontaneous, sketchy style to work through the depression she faced when she had dental surgery, broke up with her boyfriend, and had an abortion, all in the course of a single week. Then came the readymades. For Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995, the artist embroidered the names of the 32 people she had been with (as well as the other 80 that she had only literally slept beside) on the inside of a store-bought tent--thereby forcing viewers to crawl inside to experience the work. (Everyone has since been lost to a fire.) Even more famous is My Bed, the Turner Prize-nominated work for which Emin bared all by exhibiting her bed just as she had left it after a week's depression—used cigarettes, condoms, stains, and all.

NEON ROMANCE 

People Like YouPeople Like You Need to Fuck People Like Me (2007)

“People like you need to fuck people like me,” bluntly reads one of Emin’s neon works, done in a script reminiscent of her drawing style. Many of her other neon works are less confrontational, but all are still extremely personal. Each includes a deeply heartfelt message about love nearly always tinged with sadness or anger—they might be seen as a more honest version of the sort of aphorisms found in Valentine’s Day cards. The medium alludes to the neon signs of Margate, adding a layer autobiography to the works.

A FEMINIST TOUCH

I've Got It AllI've Got It All (2000)

When asked about the status of women artists, Emin frequently brings up the example of Louise Bourgeois, an artist whose work can often be had for a quarter of what comparable works by her male contemporaries’ costs. Emin has also said that it’s likely that she would not have had the same career if she had children. (Her longtime companion, a cat named Docket, seems to have done little to hinder her success, however.) Rather than capitulate to the biases of the art world, however, Emin has made it her goal to make art that is overtly feminine, frequently working in textile and embroidery to evoke the traditional crafts of domesticity. Thus an explicit, ferocious sense of female sexuality is always present, layered in both the subject matter and medium.

THE NOT-SO-YOUNG BRITISH ARTIST

She Lay DownShe Lay Down (2012)

In one of her confessional textiles, Emin has embroidered the phrase, “I do not expect to be a mother, but I do expect to die alone.” The statement is almost disturbingly forthright, but such a phrase could not be more typical of the artist’s work. For Emin, references to death become a way of exposing the human tendency to forget trauma, to literally and metaphorically bury regrets and other discomfiting feelings. Often, these death references allude to Emin’s abortion, but sometimes, they simply reflect her experience of getting older. Emin has even sculpted her own death mask. Comparing earlier works—in which she typically depicted herself with legs spread—to the risqué drawings that were recently exhibited at Lehmann Maupin, Emin said that her legs were closing. That may be true, but she remains committed to making her personal life, heartbreak and all, an open book, no matter how old she gets.

DISCOVER

a treasure trove of fine art from the world's most renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. We offer exclusive works you can't find anywhere else.

LEARN

through exclusive content featuring art news, collecting guides, and interviews with artists, dealers, collectors, curators and influencers.

BUY

authentic artworks from across the globe. Collecting with us means you're helping to sustain creative culture and supporting organizations that are making the world a better place.

CONNECT

with our art advisors for buying advice or to help you find the art that's perfect for you. We have the resources to find works that suit your needs.

INSIDER ACCESS TO THE WORLD'S BEST ART

Artspace offers you authentic, exclusive works from world-renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. Collecting with us helps support creative culture while bringing you art news, interviews and access to global art resources.

  • COLLECT FROM 300+ GALLERIES & MUSEUMS