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Tracey Emin

British, born 1963

Image courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York. © 2012 Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS, London / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Only God Knows I’m Good, 2009

Snow white neon, edition 2/3 plus 2 APs
25 x 136 1/2 inches (63.5 x 346.7 cm)
Edmund Hayes Fund, by exchange, 2011

Few artists are as notorious as the British artist Tracey Emin, best known for the witty, blunt, self-deprecating, sometimes hilarious, and often highly sexual texts that appear in her sculptures and installations. She is perhaps the coarsest of the “YBAs,” or Young British Artists, the group of British art students that burst into the global art scene after graduating from Goldsmiths College in the late 1980s. Known for their wild antics, use of mundane materials, and shock tactics, Emin and her cohorts—among them Damien Hirst, Liam Gillick, Gary Hume, Angela Bulloch, and Sam Taylor-Wood—began to exhibit together in 1988, when several of them were connected by the notorious British art collector Charles Saatchi. Emin’s most infamous installation, Everyone I’ve Ever Slept With 1963–1995, 1995—which was destroyed by a fire in 2004—consisted of a tent with the appliqued names of the one hundred and two people she had slept with through 1995 when the work was finished. Only God Knows I’m Good, 2009, is the perfect marriage of Emin’s witty text and light in a sculpture reflecting her notorious history. Its placement in upper nave of the Sculpture Court is a welcome addition to the classical architecture of the Albright-Knox’s 1905 Albright Building.

More about the artist

Tracey Emin was born in Croydon, England, in 1963. She graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from the Maidstone College of Art, Kent, in 1986, and received an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art, London, in 1989. She also studied modern philosophy in London and was on the short list for the Turner Prize in 1999. Emin has exhibited extensively internationally; she represented Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007, becoming only the second female artist to do so. That same year, Emin was made a Royal Academician and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art, London; a Doctor of Letters from the University of Kent; and a Doctor of Philosophy from London Metropolitan University. In June 2011, the International Olympic Committee announced that Tracey Emin was among twelve artists selected to design a poster for the 2012 Olympic Games. Her work can be found in numerous public and private collections throughout the world, including Camden Arts Centre, London; Hara Museum, Tokyo; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Tate Britain, London, which recently opened a room devoted entirely to her work. Emin currently lives and works in London, England.