Artist Index: Tracey Emin
On December 4, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), North Miami celebrated Art Basel Miami Beach with the opening of Tracey Emin: Angel without You. The exhibition, which is the first solo museum show for the British multimedia artist Tracy Emin (b.1963), focuses on the artist’s iconic neon series. Begun in 1995, the series combines the raw, personal, and somewhat provocative artistic style for which Emin is particularly well known, with a subtler form of expression.
Emin, a member of the Young British Artists, is often considered one of the most significant British Contemporary artists, and one of the most influential female artists of the past several decades. She is best known for her evocative installations and multimedia works, which often portray intimate aspects of her life. Emin’s creations reveal her most personal moments—her confessions—in a visual context. Emin’s artworks span many media, including painting, drawing, video, photography, sculpture, and installation, and are wrought with a sense of urgency and sexual provocation.
In 1999, Lehmann Maupin hosted her first solo show in the United States. The exhibition included the seminal work Everyone I Have Ever Slept With, 1963–1995 (1995), which chronicles every person Emin ever slept next to—lovers and family. Emin continues to engage viewers through works such as My Bed (1998) in which the artist’s own bed is the subject. The bed, strewn with cigarettes, empty bottles, papers, and stained sheets, suggests the aftermath of emotional trauma, and evokes the most essential and universal of human emotions. The neon series utilizes light tubes that resemble the artist’s handwriting to express the artist’s thoughts and feelings. As a viewer, you are confronted with Emin’s personal desires, hopes, promises, experiences, and failures.
Over the past decade, the auction market for Tracey Emin has shown overall growth, outperforming the S&P 500. While her index has not yet returned to its pre-recession level, it has been trending upward since 2011, and shows signs of recovery. So far in 2013, auction sales for the artist have amassed over US$2 million, making it the top year for the artist in terms of value sold. This number was bolstered by the fact that over 65% of Emin’s works have sold above their high estimate. In addition, two of the artist’s top five auction prices were realized this auction season. To Meet My Past (2002)—a revelatory installation comprised of a four-poster bed, appliqued linens, and curtains—claimed the number one spot when it sold for over US$778,000 at Christie’s London in October.
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