Tracey Emin is the ninth artist to receive the prestigious Art Icon award, an annual prize hosted by Whitechapel Gallery, London. The museum director, Iwona Blazwick OBE said: ‘Emin’s impact can be seen globally – from contributing to the development of East London and Margate as centres for creativity, to her impact as a Professor at the Royal Academy and efforts further afield with the Tracey Emin Library in Uganda.’
Frank and intimate, but universal in its relevance, Emin’s practice draws on themes of love, desire, loss and grief to unravel the constructs of ‘woman’ and ‘self’. Through painting, drawing, film, photography, sewn appliqué, sculpture and neon, she portrays a landscape of emotional states, ranging from desire or elation to depression and despair. Mining her own life for subject-matter, Emin determined that for her, art had to be intrinsically bound up with an inner life: ‘the essence of creativity, that moment of conception... the whole being of everything... it had to be about where it was really coming from,’ she has said.