“You know, what I thought was love maybe wasn’t,” Emin says. “I understand that now. Maybe it was something else and I got it really wrong or misunderstood it. This is the kind of stuff I’m drawing, this is what I am thinking about when I am making art. What is love? I judged love against how I received it, and what I should have done is judged it on what I gave. Because that’s what I truly know. I’ve never been that successful with relationships. I have with friendships. So that means I have to put a big question mark over myself.”
In person, Emin is slighter and prettier than photographs suggest. She has a gentle manner that at times borders on vulnerability, and she is incredibly soft-spoken, despite her Estuary accent. When I arrived at her house this afternoon, her first priority was to introduce me to her mother, who was sitting by the fire in an upstairs drawing room. As I leave and make my way out into the cold, I struggle to connect Emin’s past with the woman she is now. I can’t help but think that the kind of girl who makes a point of introducing you to her mother is exactly the kind you would want to introduce to your own.
Archive for tracey emin
The artist opened her first major London retrospective today, and called it the “defining moment of her career”.
Renowned for her controversial and often explicit work, she has spent a large part of her artistic career defending herself to the public. Yet today, as she opened her new show at London’s Hayward Gallery, Tracey Emin appeared markedly mellowed and presented her work with subdued confidence:
“This is the biggest defining moment of my art career. I am really proud of the exhibition. I don’t feel I have to defend it, I’m comfortable in it,” she said.
Talking about contemporary British art, she said that she was heartened that she and her fellow YBAs were “now finally getting recognition” – and added that art in Britain has never been better.
The exhibition is said to introduce the public to Emin’s lesser-known works – and self. Spanning the course of her career, the exhibition includes a series of photographs of the artist running naked down an East London street, as well as personal documents: love letters, the ashes from a shop she co-owned in 1993, archived paraphernalia and diary entries from the time of her abortion, and a blown-up photograph of her family at a village wrestling tournament on holiday in Turkey.
Her seminal work, The Tent (also called Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995) in which she famously embroidered the names of all her lovers on the inside walls is not in the show. Today Emin expressed some remorse for the work, saying that she no longer uses names in any work:
“I know the repercussions of these works … I’m still very open but I now keep a little bit to myself.”
Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want is at the Hayward Gallery until 29 August
More bizarre search terms that have been typed in by people probably not looking for this blog, but who ended up here anyway …
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This unpretentiousness has made Emin a national symbol. Her uncodedness, her frankness, her direct use of her own life in her work, have made her a repository, in the media and to some extent in the general public’s eye, for all that’s contentious in contemporary art. It’s easy to dismiss, simplistically, her complex and redolent use of self-portraiture as ego-posturing. But the thing is, there’s no pinning her down. There’s no reducing Emin. No matter how – or how much – the media strings her up (one minute lunatic, the next the new William Blake), her work engages the nation, and has engaged it now for more than 20 years, in a dialogue about art and life and the crossovers between both. It does this at what might be called a language-sensitive place. She is multitalented, multifaceted; aesthetically endlessly versatile; there’s no form she won’t try. Somehow nothing circumscribes her.
Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want is at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London SE1 (0844 875 0073), from 18 May to 29 August 2011.
Not done this for a while. Just to show what an excellent blog this is, here are the results of a quick look through my blog stats:
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Artist Tracey Emin arrived at the Bafta awards ceremony wearing a gold Vivienne Westwood gown and corkscrew curls. Tracey, I read in some magazine or other, is hoping to meet the love of her life this year.
Tracey, I don’t care what everyone says about you, you’re fab!
Tracey Emin: My Life in a Column