Controversial appointment of leading YBA to position formally held by William Turner, John Constable, and William Blake
Tracey Emin – one of Britain’s most celebrated contemporary artists – has just been revealed to be the new Professor of Drawing at London’s prestigious Royal Academy, the country’s oldest art school.
While, there is yet to be an official announcement, the General Assembly of Royal Academicians (RAs) – an exclusive club of sculptors, architects, printmakers and painters – it seems the decision was made on Thursday.
But the appointment of the 48-year-old artist is somewhat controversial: most famous for the works Everyone I Have Ever Slept With (a tent embroidered with the names of everyone she had ever sleepy with), and My Bed (her unmade bed, surrounded by grimy detritus), Emin is not your typical fine arts academician – and perhaps an odd choice of a professor of drawing. Figurative painter Diana Armfield, for instance, complained to the Times that she ‘wouldn’t have thought that her talents were that way, while conceding that Emin’s scrawling works on paper ‘I suppose are drawings’. And she may have a point that Emin’s draughtsmanship lacks the formal skill of former post-holders – from William Turner, and John Constable, to William Blake.
Tate Galleries director Nicholas Serota has supported the decision, however: ‘there will be a lot of people who say, ‘What a lousy idea, she doesn’t stand for classical drawing’, but I think it’s a great appointment’: ‘Drawing is the foundation for everything she does and I think it’s the thing for which she is most recognised internationally as well’, he told the Times. Here Here!
She shot to fame in the 1990s as one of the leading members of the Young British Artists movement. In 1997, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, was shown at Charles Saatchi’s New Sensations exhibition and, in same year, she gained considerable media exposure when she appeared drunk and swearing on a live Channel 4 TV discussion.
In 1999, she was a Turner Prize nominee and exhibited My Bed — an installation, consisting of her own unmade dirty bed with used condoms and blood-stained underwear. In March 2007, Emin was chosen to join the Royal Academy of Arts in London as a Royal Academician. She represented Britain at the 2007 Venice Biennale. Her first major retrospective 20 Years was held in Edinburgh 2008, and toured Europe until 2009.
Tracey opened the Turner Contemporary art gallery in Margate with Jools Holland in April 2011. She has been a major supporter of the project from its inception and it has been suggested she will exhibit there in the future. In May 2011, Emin’s largest major solo exhibition in a public space was held at Hayward Gallery, London titled Love Is What You Want.
Follow ArtLyst on Twitter for breaking art news and latest exhibition reviews