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Friday, January 31, 2014

William Etty

Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges One of his Minister,
1830, William Etty
When artists visit art museums today, we often encounter paintings of nude figures. We pause, perhaps, give them the quick "once over" then move on, not aroused in any way, certainly not embarrassed, really not even much interested, in fact. Such antique art is, today, our of sync with our sexual psyches. When others besides artists visit art museums today...never mind it doesn't happen all that often. Okay, let's postulate that when it does, people are more concerned about whether their children have spotted the naked lady staring out at them from the canvas; or preventing them from doing so; and if it's "too late," what their reaction might be. With the exception of a few Renaissance masterpieces, the vast majority of such nude figures found their way onto canvas and into art museums during the 19th century (or shortly thereafter). This would mostly be during the so-called Victorian Era, which, ironically, we tend to think of as the height of prudery in the social realm where moral standards were exceedingly high (as compared to today, at least).
The Sirens and Ulysses, 1837, William Etty
--the "plain brown wrapper" is exceedingly thin.
William Etty, Self-portrait, 1823
Such an impression today is the result of a Victorian façade of moral righteousness among those of the male gender. Men, psychologists tell us, are hardwired to be aroused by what they see. During the 19th century and before, ninety percent of all artists were men, and that was the case with virtually one-hundred percent of all artists painting nude figures. Although they no doubt enjoyed the act of painting a nude model, few artist could afford to do so regularly, for their own voyeuristic pleasure (models had to be paid). Let's face it, the painted nude figure, male or female, was little more than the 19th century version of pornography. It came with a "plain brown wrapper" of mythology, personal hygiene, allegory, ancient history, even biblical scenes, thinly applied as a veneer of moral justification for the unclad (or nearly so) figures. Often such images were painted life-size on enormous canvases, as if such a bold scale somehow lifted the work to high art making it more than what it really was--safe voyeurism. Men commissioned, critiqued, and bought these works. Male artists were only too ready, willing, and able to paint what their respectable male clients could not safely or morally observe in any other way. During the first half of the 19th century, leading the British pack of such artists was William Etty.

Male Nude Lying on a Shroud on Rocks, 1820-29, William Etty.
Male figures were often a good deal more explicit than this one.
Cupid and Psyche, 1821, William Etty
Around 1830, William Etty painted Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges One of his Ministers (top). Although not seeming noticeably obscene today, in 1830, despite the historic/mythological pretense, not only was his painting pornographic but downright perverted. Psychologists today have even adopted the king's name in describing the actions of a man (usually) who willingly exposes his spouse to another person for sexual purposes. It's called Candaulism. Sometimes, virtually all pretense of social acceptability fell away. Mythological "love" in the pagan embodiment of Cupid and Psyche (left) was a favorite theme for Etty and other such artists. Moreover such "sanitized" nudity was not limited to female figures. Etty's Male Nude Lying on a Shroud on Rocks (above) would also indicated that homoeroticism was alive and well in the Victorian Era, and living surreptitiously in the house next door, not limited to the likes of Oscar Wilde.

Mira, William Etty
Head of a Girl, William Etty
William Etty is remembered fondly in
his hometown of York.
William Etty was not exclusively a Victorian Era pornographer. He sometimes painted very chaste portraits of typical Victorian women, even children, in a typical Victorian mode. Yet the vast majority (perhaps as high as ninety percent) of his figures were nude. Etty became a member of the Royal Academy in 1828, yet despite this, his work is somewhat uneven. Time spent in Italy as a student gave him a stunning sense of color yet his drawing is sometimes disproportional. The heads of both figures in his Cupid and Psyche (the tondo above, left) are noticeably out of proportion to the bodies. Psyche's thigh is especially ill-proportioned. His 1826 Judgment of Paris (bottom, there are at least three different versions) is one of his largest and best works, though the buyer complained the landscape in the background seemed unfinished. Etty was no landscape painter. Despite this, William Etty seems to be a reasonably well-respected artist in the heady atmosphere of British art museums today. There's even a statue of him in York (above, left), outside the city art gallery. Born in 1787, he died in 1849, a lonely bachelor never able to confront in the flesh that which he painted.

The Judgment of Paris, 1825-26, William Etty,
apparently a "best-seller," he painted three versions.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sir Jacob Epstein

St. Michael and the Devil, 1958, new Coventry Cathedral, Sir Jacob Epstein
Sir Jacob Epstein, Self-portrait
with a Beard, 1920
It's not at all unusual to encounter controversial works of art when writing about painters. Sometimes the controversy revolves around politics, sometimes moral issues, nudity, even matters of style. It's much less common to encounter such matters with regard to sculptors. I suppose the difference is that painters very often paint for themselves, expressing personal feelings, attitudes, and opinions. Supplies are relatively inexpensive and storage is seldom a problem if the work is so offensive as not to be displayed. Sculptors, however, usually work on commission, which means some wealthy individual is looking over their shoulder, guiding them, perhaps even vetoing elements of the proposed piece. Moreover, a block of marble, a mass of bronze, even a sizable chunk of wood, are all quite expensive and unlikely to be the receptor of a sculptor's whim as might be the case with a painting.
Dahlias and Sunflower c.1936,
Sir Jacob Epstein
Sir Jacob Epstein was the exception to this norm. Epstein was a sculptor and virtually every piece he ever did involving more than just a head with shoulders, could be deemed controversial. Epstein was a British sculptor working during the first half of the 20th century. He was born, however, in the good old U.S. of A. on New York's lower East Side in 1880 to Jewish-Polish parents. As a child, Epstein suffered from pleurisy, which gave him lots of time to learn to draw. He studied at New York's Art Students League while working in a bronze foundry--a perfect combination for a would-be sculptor. Starting as a book illustrator, Epstein earned enough money to move to Paris in 1900 where he studied first at the Academie Julian then stepped up to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In the years that followed Epstein moved to London, married, and in 1911, became a British subject.

John the Baptist, Jacob Epstein,
Bishop Forest Hill, Dumfries, Scotland
Jacob Epstein also painted, though his bold, expressionist style and content were in no way exceptional for their time, as seen in his Dahlias and Sunflower (above, left) from a brief painting frenzy during the mid-1930s. Epstein's sculpture, was exceptional, however, in that the artist felt no bounds insofar as style and content in his work. Where portrait exactitude was needed, he was as good as any, better than most (below). And his name and reputation as a sculptor were such that not only did he attract clients and commissions but was largely given a free hand in terms of what he made. Epstein strove to break free of Victorian and Edwardian sculptural Realism while at the same time ignoring to the point of 19th century obscenity the explicit details of his human figures. As seen in his John the Baptist (right), to put it more bluntly, he routinely exposed female breasts and male genitalia in carving or casting his figures. Epstein's most striking piece is the wall-mounted St. Michael and the Devil (top) created in 1958 for the new Coventry Cathedral, replacing the ancient cathedral ruined by German bombs during WW II. Though religious in nature, it strikes the appropriate happy medium between a traditional classical style and Modernism.

Bust of Albert Einstein, 1933,
Jacob Epstein
Sir Winston Churchill, 1946,
Jacob Epstein
By the same token, perhaps Epstein's most controversial sculpture was the tomb of British playwright Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde died in 1900. He was buried in a Paris cemetery. In 1908, the executor of his estate commissioned Epstein to design and carve a memorial for the grave. Even the choice of Epstein was controversial. Wilde's literary supporters envisioned a memorial based upon one of Wilde's homoerotic works. Wilde's detractors were outraged that there should even be a memorial. Thus Epstein found himself in a no-win situation as he, instead, chose as his theme Wilde's poem, The Sphinx. Carved from a 20-ton block of stone, Epstein devised a stylized, Art Deco, winged figure with an elaborate Egyptian headdress hovering over the tomb.
Study for the Tomb of Oscar Wilde, 1908, Jacob Epstein

No testicles, lots of lipstick.
The story does not end there. In transporting the monument from Epstein's studio in London to the Paris cemetery, French border officials, demanded and got an enormous import duty of 120 pounds, also required the sculpture be hidden beneath a tarp during transport to the cemetery. They were offended by what they considered the figure's excessively large testicles. Once the stone was in place, Epstein was able to complete the carving only by bribing a security guard to "look the other way." However, when finished, Epstein was outraged to find that the offending genitalia had been covered by a bronze butterfly. He refused to attend the unveiling. A few weeks later, a friend of Wilde's presented the sculptor with the ornamental butterfly on a chain to hang around his neck. Decades later, the offending testicles were vandalized, ending up as a paperweight on the cemetery manager's desk. Today, a glass barrier surrounds the lower part of the tomb in an attempt to thwart the tradition of visitors leaving lipstick kisses on the monument.

The Tomb of Oscar Wilde, Jacob Epstein, 1914, Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France.



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ben Enwonwu

The Durbar of Eid ul Fitr Kano Nigeria, 1955, Ben Enwonwu

Figures on a Forest Road, 1943,
Ben Enwonwu 
It's no secret that any number of great artists of the western world have, at times, ventured into the "other world" of primitive or ethnic art in search of inspiration and new visual images with which to "spice up" their work. Paul Gauguin immersed himself in south Pacific island art. Frederic Church traveled to South America; Georgia O'Keeffe adopted art forms from America's native Southwest; and perhaps most famously, Picasso delved into African art during certain of his "periods" in search of their simple "novelty" if nothing else. Perhaps because of all this "sampling" there has evolves one of the great pretentions of western art and artists, that being that while their own art and culture gradually evolves, that of their ethnic counterparts is considered static, a known entity from which they borrow but do not return. Picasso felt free to borrow from Africa but an African artist who borrows from Picasso is seen as lacking in authenticity--as being imitative--as betraying his or her own cultural identity.
River Niger Landscape, 1965, Ben Enwonwu--African Impressionism?
Ben Enwonwu
Ben Enwonwu hated that. Ben Enwonwu, born in 1917, is considered Nigeria's foremost painter and sculptor of the 20th century. Originating from the upper levels of Nigerian society, he studied at the best art schools his country had to offer, paid his dues teaching art at all levels, and made his name in art the hard way--painting, exhibiting, lecturing, and selling. His The Durbar of Eid ul Fitr Kano Nigeria (top) recently sold for £193,250 ($319,810). Unfortunately, Ben Enwonwu died in 1994 so he won't benefit much from the sale. But his legacy will. Enwonwu left behind a large body of paintings and sculptural commissions, but beyond that, he insisted that he and other African artists were on a par with artists of every other country and culture in the world, not to be considered the stunted stepchild of western art.
Girl with the Blue Headscarf, 1953,
Ben Enwonwu--African subject,
western style, African artist.
Enwonwu's earliest works date from the 1940s and were mostly landscapes such as his Figures on a Forest Road (above, left from 1943. After WW II, Enwonwu studied in London and Oxford in England, at UCLA, and Louisiana State in the U.S., so despite his Nigerian birth and African culture he can legitimately lay claim to being an international artist. His work is unmistakably African yet, like Picasso, he has seasoned it to taste with various "ethnic" western influences. His Girl with the Blue Headscarf (left) demonstrates this mix. In 1956 Enwonwu received the most important sculptural commission of his lifetime, becoming the first black man to sculpt the Queen of England. Though criticized for having taken liberties with the royal lips, the queen seemed pleased.

Enwonwu's "African" queen.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ron English

I'll bet this is a billboard image you won't soon forget , Ron English's Marlboro Boy.
Uncle Ron--Ron English
Just when you've come to the certain conclusion that painting is totally irrelevant in today's social media/mass media world, along comes Ron English. He's so relevant that an irreverent protest idea conceived one night can be seen painted (or silkscreened) the following afternoon by thousands on a pirated urban billboard. Pirated? How do you pirate a billboard? You simply climb up to its lofty heights and paste your message or image over the existing advertisement (or sometimes a blank space, or on the side of a building). It's not for those squeamish about heights or getting arrested. It's called "subvertising," and it has made Ron English the man he is today.

Red Marilyn, Ron English
But just who is this Ron English, and what has he done with my pop culture? Ron English is from Dallas, Texas, born in either 1959, 1960, or 1966, depending upon your source. We can assume he was there but just can't remember what year it was. That, alone says a lot about Ron English. Ron English makes me laugh. Few artists today can do that. He also makes me think--and more importantly, rethink. Like me, he's no great fan of McDonald's, cigarettes, Coca-Cola, beer, guns, breakfast cereal, sugar, Wall Street, and virtually anything with the words "King Size" on it. He and Michael Moore are really good friends (he was interviewed in Moore's film, Supersize Me. More recently he has been the subject of a short documentary on his own, Popaganda, the Art and Subversion of Ron English (click the clip at bottom).

Grade School Guernica, Ron English
Harmonic Scream, Ron English
Then there's Ron English the painter. If you want a glimpse of what art will be like during the remainder of the 21st century, look at Ron's contribution. You'll see humor, a touch of anger, excellent technical prowess, lots and lots of Andy Warhol color, and Post-modern pop--irreverence, but never irrelevance. He's been dubbed "Today's Andy Warhol." Indeed, there is a lot of Warhol in English. His mouse-breasted Red Marilyn is pure English, but there are several versions that are pure Warhol ala-English. English sees nothing sacred in art history, as his Edvard Munch inspired Harmonic Scream (right) or his take on Leonardo's Last Supper peopled with Disney characters would seem to indicate. Like many artists, he has favorite images (one might be tempted to call them "hang-ups"). Mickey and Marilyn are a couple, along with Tony the Tiger, Joe Camel, a corpulent Ronald McDonald, and Picasso's Guernica. His Grade School Guernica (above), came first, then his Cowgirl Guernica, his Graveyard Guernica, Guernica Aerial View, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Guernica, The Bombing Begins in Five Minutes, and enough others to make Picasso's head spin over in his grave.

Ron English's "subvertising"--creating friends and enemies at the same time.
Abraham Obama, 2008, Ron English
Like any good Postmodern artist, there's also Ron English, the entrepreneur. He has his own line of toys, backpacks, lithographic prints, posters, books, videos, and of course, paintings in major galleries around the world. His original 2008 print Abraham Obama (an edition of two-hundred) has skyrocketed in value from $200 to $2000 in the past five years. The painting fused the likenesses of Lincoln and Obama into a pop image known to drive Tea Party conservatives mad (madder).

Unlike so many artists today, Ron English has found his voice--a voice with a message. It's loud. It's liberal. It's sometimes ludicrous, but make no mistake, you will remember his message, whether you like it or not. From his silly little cartoonish trolls to his angry outrages aimed at corporate America, the comparisons to artists of the past such as Warhol, Gericault, Picasso, Lichtenstein, even Norman Rockwell, are all telling in describing perhaps the first really important artist of the 21st century. Yet, at the same time, such lavish comparisons are also limiting, an attempt to package Ron English and his art for human consumption. The problem is, with every food product he vilifies, every billboard he "liberates," every painting masterpiece he lampoons, the transparent packaging pops open as the artist, in effect, "supersizes" himself.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Yousuf Karsh

Among Karsh's earliest portrait photos this one has turned out to be his most
famous. Dating from 1941, this iconic image of a scowling Winston Churchill became
a cover for Life magazine, May 21, 1945, as WW II came to an end in Europe.
More than a dozen of Karsh's images have ended up on the cover of Life.
Yousuf Karsh Self-portrait, 1955.
One of the inherent difficulties any portrait artist faces is the fact that he or she is only as famous as those they portray. There are exceptions, of course. Leonardo was more famous than his Mona Lisa, whom he made famous. Thomas Gainsborough was more famous than his Blue Boy. Norman Rockwell was at least as famous as virtually everyone he painted. If you paint a lot of portraits of a lot of famous people, then to some small extent, their fame tends to rub off. These observations also apply to those artists utilizing their skills in portrait photography. Portrait photographers such as Anna Leibovitz, Richard Avedon, and Edward Steichen have become famous primarily for who they've photographed, though their list of celebrities would not be very long if they not very good at their art.

Mackenzie King, 1941, Yousuf Karsh
In terms of portrait photography, one artist, Yousuf Karsh, probably best exemplifies this "rubbing off" of fame from the portrayed to the portrayer. Karsh was Armenian by birth--1908, in the city of Mardin, located along the southern border of present-day Turkey. As a child he endured the Great Armenian Genocide of 1915-22 during which 1.5-million died. He saw relatives massacred and watched his sister starve to death. In 1924 his parents sent their 16-year-old son to Quebec, Canada, to live with his uncle, who happened to be a photographer. Through his uncle, he was apprenticed to the Boston photographer, John Garo. In 1928 Karsh returned to Quebec as an assistant to photographer, John Powls, who retired shortly thereafter, allowing Karsh to take over the business. Karsh moved his studio to Parliament Hill where he came to be noticed by the Prime Minister, Mackenzie King (above, left), who introduced the talented and equally ambitious young photographer to visiting dignitaries. Karsh's list of famous people who posed for his giant 8 by 10-inch format box camera began to grow.

Albert Einstein, 1948, Yousuf Karsh

Karsh's men seldom smiled.
One of his earliest contacts through King was then British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill (top). Karsh's pose and expert lighting combined with Churchill's scowling countenance to create an image of the man that still resonates today. Karsh's photo has appeared on British, U.S., Canadian, and Australian stamps, (but not those of Germany). It will soon take its place on the new U.K. five-pound note (due out in 2016). Tradition has it that the famous scowl came as a result of Karsh having snatched away Sir Winston's ever-present cigar just seconds before clicking the shutter. In any case, Churchill was joined on the list of Karsh's famous portraits by historic images of Albert Einstein (above), Ernest Hemingway, Nikita Khrushchev, Martin Luther King Jr., Indira Gandhi, Walt Disney, Pablo Picasso, several popes, numerous movie stars, nearly every President during his lifetime, even Queen Elizabeth II, herself. The queen, lacking a cigar, didn't scowl.

During his long career (he died in 2002 at the age of 94) Yousuf Karsh
worked almost exclusively in black and white. However, on rare
occasions, such as this 1986 portrait of cartoonist, Charles Schulz, (and
some of his papal portraits), Karsh proved equally adept in the use color.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gonzalo Endara Crow

Lioviendo Companas (Raining Bells), 1987, Gonzalo Endara Crow

Gonzalo Endara Crow
When we Americans think and talk about Folk Art, we, in our provincial narrow-mindedness, tend to think only of American Folk Art of the Grandma Moses variety. The artsy among us, after a moment's thought, might bring to mind the work of French artist, Henri Rousseau. Of course, virtually every culture on earth has its own brand of folk art. Take the country of Ecuador, for instance. For those who were absent the day they taught South American geography, as the name suggest, simply look for the equator on the map then move your finger west to the Pacific Ocean and...BINGO...there you are. It's not a big place, once a part of neighboring Colombia to the north, and before that a colony of Spain (WAAY to the East for those really geographically challenged). Judging by the number of Ecuadoran street artists who imitate his style, Gonzalo Endara Crow is probably the most famous Ecuadoran artist in modern times. Which brings up something of a quandary: much of his work looks like that of a self-taught folk artist, but in fact, Endara Crow was University-trained.

El Tren Volador (The Flying Train), 1970s, Gonzalo Endara Crow
(one of several versions).
Gonzalo Endara Crow was born in Bucay, Ecuador, in 1936. He died in 1996. In his mid-thirties (1971), Endara Crow studied at Central University in Quito, his hometown, and incidentally, the capital of Ecuador (my own geography was deficient in that regard). His El Tren Volador (The Flying Train, above) painted around that time, is considered his best work, though he seems to have painted a dozen or so versions. However, in order to begin to know and understand Gonzalo Endara Crow, you also need to know something about Ecuador and Quito. As with most folk artists, this man and his art is a reflection of his background, his country, his era, and his culture. Endara Crow's father worked for the railroad, which would explain his son's fascination with trains. He also had a fascination with eggs, which completely escapes me, (and apparently others too).

Untitled, 1990, Gonzalo Endara Crow. Mt Pichincha, with flying train and apples or oranges. He apparently tired of painting colored eggs.
Ecuador, as mentioned earlier, lies right on the equator. That rings up images of dense jungle, dense heat, and dense humidity, right? That would be true except for the fact that Ecuador straddles the Andes. Endara Crow's home town of Quito is 9,225 feet above seal level. The average temperature, year round, is a steady 56 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius). The other important item you should know about Quito is visual--Mt. Pichincha. It is the second highest active volcano in the world, last erupting in 1999. It has its own glacier (on the equator, no less). That being the case, the greatest direct threat from a Mt. Pichincha eruption is not pyroclastic but a muddy flood. Mt. Pichincha hovers over the city of Quito (about five miles outside of town) much like an Ecuadoran Mt. Fuji (which it resembles). It hovers over Endara Crow's art as well. Yet, his Untitled (above) from 1990, which features both the mountain and his trademark flying train, is not the work of a typical folk artist...unless you count Surrealism as folk art. Some have called it Magic Realism. All of which seeks to put the artist in a box, complete with label and shipping instructions, ready for export north at least as far as Mexico, where his work is popular.

Monumental art by Gonzalo Endara Crow
The evidence seen in Endara Crow's lifetime work is that of a folk artist who outgrew the label. When does a folk artist cease being a folk artist and become something else? When he or she takes their first art class? When they enroll in an institute of higher education? When they begin to assimilate styles from outside their native culture? For several years during the 1970s, Endara crow taught at an art school. Does that remove him from the ranks of a folk artist. He also dabbled in sculpture, leaving behind his monumental "El Choclo" (corn, above, left) and "El Colibrí" (hummingbird, above, right) in the nearby community of Sangolqui. In America, folk artists have come to be called "Outsiders" in that their art is "outside" the mainstream. In Ecuador however, Endara Crow could hardly be considered an Outsider in that, having been deceased for more than fifteen years, any number of local artist have taken to imitating his style, colors, and content, making this difficult-to-label artist now Ecuador, at least.

Ecuadorian Dawn, Gonzalo Endara Crow.
From Folk Art to Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism in one lifetime.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin’s Exhibition – "Love Is What You Want," 2011, London's Hayward Gallery
Tracey Emin with her friend, Docket.
Even if you like conceptual art, Tracey Emin is hard to take. That's especially so, if you don't. For instance, London's Stuckists are not fond of either her or her art, even though she's reputed to have given their non-movement its name. The Tate Gallery in London likes her, though, which means the conservative Stuckists don't much care for the Tate, either. Tracey is considered a member of the Young British Artists movement (YBA), sort of a left wing as applied to the London art world.

For Tracey Emin, art is totally personal. Virtually all of her installations, her sculptures, her obscenely nude drawings, her neon light quotations, are autobiographical. She displays her bed; she proclaims her sexual relationships (in a tent, no less), she sketches herself spread-eagle nude naked; she quotes herself in neon. Her large-scale applique texts on blankets (above) are virtual autobiographies. Just about the only form of art she has created which is not about Tracey Emin are her paintings from her student days at the Royal College of Art, most of which she has destroyed. Egotistical? Perhaps. Certainly an egoist. However, if artists are at their best when they create what they know best, then Tracey Emin has been at her best for some thirty years.

My Bed, 1999, Tracey Emin--airing her dirty linens and laundry.
Friendship, 1987, Tracey Emin, from her
university days when she created with a
brush rather than a needle.
Tracey Emin was born in the Croydon section of South London, though she was raised in Margate the far easternmost suburb of the city along the coast. Born in 1963, her mother was a domestic, her father owned a hotel along with his wife, who was not Tracey's mother. When the hotel went broke, so did his family--both of them. Tracey was raped at the age of thirteen. All of these early struggles from her youth are blatantly reflected in her work. She went on to study fashion at Medway, printing at Maidstone, Philosophy at Birkbeck, and finally painting a the Royal College of Art where she obtained a M.A. It was at Medway where she took up with Stuckist co-founder Billy Childish. They lived together for several years until 1999 when Tracey's My Bed (above) was chosen as a finalist in the Turner Prize Competition. She didn't win the prize but the controversy arising from her unmade bed far overshadowed the video art of Steve McQueen, who did.

Every Part of Me's Bleeding, 1999, Tracey Emin, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York.
I Do Not Expect to Be a Mother,
1999, Tracey Emin--blanket graffiti
Much of Tracey Emin's art today involves letters forming words sewn on blankets. In the finest post-modern tradition of Jeff Koons, she hires others to do the actual sewing. In summing up her work, Tracey Emin might be considered sort of a slutty version of America's Jenny Holzer, though her words are far more personal and spelling is not her strong suit. When not proclaiming her past using fabric, Tracey "enlightens" us to her personal life using bright neon tubes made (by others) to replicate her own, highly stylized handwriting. Emin's more recent work involves self-portraiture, though far from anything ever visualized by experts from the past such as Rembrandt of van Gogh. Hers are highly expressive brush and ink drawings not unlike images scratched on the walls of toilet cubicles in the men's room of the grimiest bars in London (but about twenty times larger). Such images (those not so obscene as to be unseemly in this venue) can be seen in her show, "She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea" (below) at the Turner Contemporary located in her  old hometown of Margate.

"She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea," 2012, Tracey Emin, Turner Margate show.
The "floor show" seems to suggest a sculptural version of her wall art.

Meet Tracey Emin: