Tracey Emin, Born 1963, UK

All I Want is You, 2016

Tracey Emin’s monumental sculpture “All I Want is You” (2016) is her largest bronze work. Made in the year of her mother’s death, the work reflects on loss and love and female power. The artist is sharing with us her grief, her sadness, and the absence of a beloved person in her daily life. As always, her work is autobiographical yet open to broader interpretations.

Emin has said of this work that, in formal terms, she wanted to take on the typically male art form of large-scale bronze sculpture with a powerful female touch – her hands and finger prints are imprinted on every surface, as this bronze was cast from a clay mould that she shaped, viscerally pulling and prodding the material, to create a strong womanly figure in the twisted torso and muscular thighs. The rock-like form behind the torso – pulled off from the original sculpture – can be seen as a memory, a lost love that remains somehow connected to it.

This piece is a logical extension of Emin’s drawings and paintings, reflecting on the artist’s ability to translate two-dimensional ideas into space – its mass and volume, proportion and balance; light and shadows and the way they intertwine in order to introduce us to her thoughts, struggles, visions. “I am the custodian, the curator of the images that live in my mind,” says Emin. “Every image has first entered my mind, travelled through my heart, my blood – arriving at the end of my hand. Everything has come through me.”

Typically working from memories and dreams, the artist captures her innermost feelings in language (for example her neon piece in the Donum Home) and in the materiality of her work. The human condition in all its pathos, misery and beauty – youth and maturity, love, loss and lust, intimacy, shame, guilt, grief, crisis and death – is the driving force of her art. Emin focuses on transmitting the emotional essence of her experiences through a confessional but open-ended dialogue with both herself and the wider world. 

Biography

The British artist Tracey Emin, based in London, came to international attention in the 1990s as part of a group that came to be known as the ‘Young British Artists’, with mixed media works, such as a tent embroidered with the names of all the people she had ever slept with. Her most famous work is “My Bed” (1998), her unmade, dirty bed, strewn with the detritus of her chaotic life at the time – a kind of self portrait – was first exhibited in 1999, the year she was nominated for the Turner Prize. She makes work in a variety of media, from painting and drawing, to embroidery, neon, installation and sculpture. A Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, she represented the UK at the Venice Biennale in 2007.