Tracey Emin (b. 1963)

Why I Never Became a Dancer (1995)
Collected Shorts (1995-1998)

Tracey Emin (born 1963) is an English artist, one of the so-called Young British Artists (YBAs). She is probably only second to Damien Hirst among the YBAs in terms of notoriety among the general public. In particular, her piece My Bed, part of 1999's Turner Prize exhibition, and consisted of her own unmade bed complete with used condoms and blood-stained underwear, brought her a great deal of attention from the press.

Emin was born in London, but brought up in Margate. She has a twin brother Paul. Emin's father was married to a woman other than her mother and while still young he abandoned the family which lead to a decline in their standard of living, an event which has featured in a number of works. Around the age of 14 she was raped. She initially studied art in Maidstone which she has described as one of the best experiences of her life where she was greatly influenced by Billy Childish, then returned to London to study at the Royal College of Art, where she obtianed an MA in painting. She was initially influenced by Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele, though later destroyed all her paintings from this early period. Later still, she studied philosophy at Birkbeck.

In 1993 Emin opened a shop called simply The Shop in Bethnal Green with fellow artist Sarah Lucas. This sold works by the two of them, including t-shirts and ash trays with Damien Hirst's picture stuck to the bottom. Lucas paid Emin a wage to mind the shop and she also made extra money by agreeing to write letters to people one of which was Jay Jopling who became her dealer. During this period Emin was also working with the gallerist Joshua Compston.

In 1994 she had her first solo show at the White Cube gallery, one of the most significant galleries in London. It was called My Major Retrospective, and was typically autobiographical, consisting of personal photographs, and photos of her now- destroyed early paintings as well as items which most artists would not consider showing in public, such as a packet of cigarettes her uncle was holding when decapitated in a car crash. This willingness to show details of what would generally be thought of as her private life has become one of Emin's trademarks. In 1995 her piece Everyone I have Ever Slept With 1963-95 was included in the group exhibition Minky Manky at the South London Gallery organised by her then boyfriend Carl Friedman.