Tracey Emin is an artist well known for unfiltered and autobiographical artwork. She first rose to prominence as part of the Young British Artists group in the late 1980s where she, alongside the likes of Damien Hirst, Cornelia Parker, and Sarah Lucas, took the art world by storm with her controversial take on contemporary art. Since then, Emin has gone on to become a Royal Academician and has exhibited her work the world over.
While Emin is a multidisciplinary artist best known for her installations ‘Everyone I Have Ever Slept With’ and ‘My Bed,’ one could argue that the medium of printmaking stands out as the ideal conduit for her distinctive, raw, and confessional subject matter. Undoubtably, it is a medium that Emin has delved into extensively.
LOT 208: TRACEY EMIN CBE RA (BRITISH B.1963) Untitled
Estimate £800 - £1,200
Private Collection of Early Emin Works (1983-1992) Lots 208 - 221
Lots 208 through to 221 in our October 3rd Prints and Multiples auction are collection of early works on paper by Emin that were gifted to the current owner, a fellow artist who attended Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art together with Emin. This unique collection, dating back to 1983 includes undocumented woodcuts and monotypes, an illustrated birthday card and Emin’s first published book ‘Six Turkish Tales’. Many of these works double as cards, letters, and notes to her friend- exchange artistic ideas and updates immortalising the early stages of Emin’s career. They even feature the earliest iteration of her artistic identity signed off as Traci Emin or Miss T. K. Emin.
Dominating her early practice at Maidstone College of Art, Emin’s rough-edged woodcuts capture intimate scenes of relationships, with intertwined couples and hunched figures. The influence of the Northern European Expressionists, Oskar Kokoschka, Erich Heckel, Kathe Kollwitz, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner is particularly evident in these prints, with high contrast scenes of macabre figures expressing their inner lives. Emin’s dramatic woodcuts capture both sensitive and tortuous pairings, leaning into the terror and joy of the expressionist aesthetic.
Emin has used monoprints as a key element in her creative output throughout her career. The rapid creation of a monoprint allows Emin to harness the diaristic element to her work, capturing the moment of her feelings or inspiration. The often scratchy and informal style of her monoprints invite a sense of intimacy in the viewer. Lot 215 A Drunken Boat captures a bobbing sailboat on the shores of Margate- a familiar scene from Emin’s early works.
In 1987 Emin was accepted into the painting course at the Royal College of Art, where she developed her skills as a draftswoman and painter.
Emin has worked with all forms of printmaking, etchings lithographs and screenprint. Closed is a stunning etching in Emin’s classic self-referential style. Despite its simple composition, like with most works in Emin’s oeuvre, it does not fail to strike a nerve. Its title alludes to the breakdown of a relationship, the figures in the print sit together but have laid all their cards on the table and are very much ‘closed’ off from one another.
LOT 222: TRACEY EMIN CBE RA (BRITISH B.1963)Closed
Estimate £1,000 - £2,000
Emin first started working with neon in the early 1990s. Neon was a medium that had predominantly been confined to the realm of industrial and commercial advertising, never before had it been used for artistic expression. Emin’s choice to infuse this traditionally impersonal medium with deeply personal narratives of her innermost thoughts, dreams, and confessions, all conveyed in her own distinctive handwriting was nothing short of revolutionary.
Lots 223, 225 and 227 are each hand signed editions of 500 and are classic examples of Emin’s work with neon.
We are pleased to consistently offer works by Tracey Emin in our Prints and Multiples sales, and particularly pleased to be offering this exciting collection of early works in our Prints and Multiples Auction on Wednesday 3rd October 2023. Please do contact the department with any enquiries into buying or selling prints and editions by Tracey Emin.
Head of Prints & Multiples