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Known for unflinching memoir-inspired studies of trauma, sexuality, and emotions, YBA queen Tracey Emin’s trailblazing career has divided opinion since the 1990s. If you’re looking for original Tracey Emin prints and editions for sale or would like to sell, request a complimentary valuation and browse our network’s most in-demand works.

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YBA heavyweight and controversial, confessional, artist Tracey Emin is best known for her intimate sketches, sculptures and installations. Her practice spans painting, embroidery, film, drawing, sculpture and neon, yet remains grounded in themes of love, desire, pain, grief and the female experience.

Born in South London in 1963, Emin was brought up by her family in Margate, Kent. In 1987, Emin moved to London to study painting at the Royal College of Art. After graduating, Emin went through two abortions. This experience of pain, loss and loneliness proved fundamental in the development of her artistic vocabulary. Emin's works are instantly recognisable in their autobiographical and intimate quality and have won over the heart of even the most sceptics. In 1999, this raw approach to storytelling won her a nomination to the Turner Prize and, in 2007, it got her a coveted spot as a Royal Academician at the Royal Academy of Arts (RA).

Emin had her first solo exhibition Every Part of Me’s Bleeding at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in 1999. The show contained works across a variety of mediums, including the installation that helped to launch her career and reputation, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995, or The Tent (1994). Presented at the Young British Artist's show, this work consisted of a canvas tent, with 102 names of every person Emin had ‘slept’ with sewn into the walls.

Another of Emin’s most notorious works is her installation My Bed, for which she got nominated to the Turner Prize in 1999. An iconic Tracey Emin artwork, My Bed was created in response to Emin’s grief following a breakup and made no attempt to hide the ugly reality. Consisting of the artist’s own bed, we see soiled sheets and underwear, empty alcohol bottles, condoms, and even bodily fluids utilised by Emin here. This work recreated the physical aftermath of what the artist called her “mini nervous breakdown” where she did not leave her bed for four days. Despite Emin not winning the Turner Prize that year, her name was irrevocably solidified in the leading contemporary art scene.

In addition to her shocking installations, Emin is well known for her neon works and her drawings, many of which self-portraits, where all of her fragility best come to life. Her Nude Drawings and Nude Self-Portraits series show the artist at her most vulnerable, unafraid of showing her true self. In her neon works, the artist communicates her emotions directly with the viewer through short, often intentionally misspelled, phrases. As Emin claims, “neon is emotional for everybody.”

1. £2.5M for Tracey Emin's My Bed

Emin's most expensive artwork at auction, My Bed, exposes the artist's innermost emotions and profound grief following a breakup. In 1998, she experienced a sort of nervous breakdown within the confines of her small apartment, remaining bedridden for four days. As she surveyed the chaos that surrounded her during this period, she had an epiphany that her bedroom itself could serve as an installation piece, a realisation she described as ”absolutely brilliant.’’

Raw and unapologetic, My Bed stirred significant controversy when it was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1999. A year later, the artwork found a new home with art collector and patron Charles Saatchi. Subsequently, Saatchi placed the work on auction at Christie's in London on July 1, 2014, where it fetched an astonishing £2.5 million—more than double its high estimate—setting a new auction record for Emin.

Like A Cloud Of Blood by Tracey Emin

Like A Cloud Of Blood © Tracey Emin, 2022

2. 2.3M for Tracey Emin's Like A Cloud Of Blood

Achieving a remarkable price of £2.3 million at Christie's 20th/21st Century Evening Auction in October 2022, Emin's Like A Cloud Of Blood (2022) soared well above double its estimated value. While it fell just shy of matching the price realised for her most iconic work, My Bed (1998), this painting's sale stands as a noteworthy milestone in the artist's career.

The groundbreaking nature of this sale is entirely expected, given Emin's prominent role in the art world throughout 2022. Her introduction of an innovative and charitable initiative involving the conversion of an old bathhouse into studio spaces for an artist residency program, appropriately named "TKE Studios’’ after her initials, has garnered significant attention. Emin made it known that the proceeds from this sale would be allocated to support the establishment of these creative spaces and studios for artists, further solidifying her commitment to nurturing artistic talent.

I told you don’t try to find me by Tracey Emin - Christie's 2023

Image © Christie's / I told you don’t try to find me © Tracey Emin 2007

3. £1.4M for Tracey Emin's I told you don’t try to find me

I told you don't try to find me (2007) stands as a masterpiece that holds a pivotal role in Emin's artistic odyssey. Created during the year when Emin represented Britain at the prestigious Venice Biennale, this artwork represents a significant milestone in her exploration of large-scale canvas art. Emin's return to painting took on a profound commitment following her battle with cancer in 2020.

In these recent creations, her poignant calligraphic prose seamlessly intertwines with the depiction of a reclining, unapologetic yet fragile woman—a portrayal that exudes confession rather than vulnerability. Emin's paintings have been commanding substantial prices in the art market, exemplified by the sale of I told you don't try to find me at Christie's in February 2023, where it achieved £1.4 million. This achievement is particularly noteworthy in the context of the challenging economic climate that 2023 presented.

Mad Tracey From Margate, Everyone’s Been There by Tracey Emin

Mad Tracey From Margate, Everyone’s Been There © Tracey Emin 1997

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