Tracey Emin, The Ship, 2019
Arts & artistsCultureLocal

Whitechapel Gallery announces Tracey Emin as the Art Icon 2022 recipient

The East London based artist is known for her autobiographical and expressive artwork that has been featured in Charles Saatchi’s Sensation exhibition and has been nominated for the Turner Prize in 1999.

Whitechapel Gallery has announced they will be awarding famed artist Tracey Emin as the Art Icon of 2022, who will receive the honour on 22 March 2022. 

Emin is the ninth artist to receive the prestigious annual Art Icon award. It will be presented at the Gallery’s annual gala celebration hosted by Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director of the Whitechapel Gallery.

Launched in 2014, the Art Icon Award celebrates the work of an artist who has made a profound contribution to a particular medium, influencing their own and subsequent generations of artists.

Having lived in Spitalfields, she has been heralded for making a difference to the East London art scene. Her installation ‘A Moment Without You,’ which depicts five bronze birds sitting atop metal plinths, was showcased on The Line art walk that extends from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the O2 Arena in Greenwich.

Alongside this, her rise to prominence came with her association with the Young British Artists (YBAs), a group of British artists who began to exhibit together in 1988 and who became known for their openness to materials and processes, shock tactics and entrepreneurial attitude. She ran a shop with fellow member Sarah Lucas called ‘The Shop’ in East London, used as a way to market their work. 

For her decades-long contribution to art, she has also been awarded the CBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) and RA (Royal Academician), giving her an honourary status within her field.

The 58-year-old is renowned for her portrayal of personal experience and heightened states of emotion through her art, depicting the raw and intimate side to her. The Gallery has described her work to be drawing upon fundamental themes of desire and grief, unravelling the constructs of ‘woman’ and ‘self’ through painting, drawing, film, photography, sewn appliqué, sculpture and neon. 

Emin has described her practice as being about ‘rites of passage, of time and age, and the simple realisation that we are always alone.’

During the announcement of the award, Director Blazwick said, ‘Our nominating committee was unanimous in wishing to pay tribute to Tracey Emin. Over the past four decades, her work across painting, sculpture, installation, film and photography has both challenged and transformed conceptions of art, gender, health and autonomy.’

For more information, visit the whitechapelgallery.org website.

If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read Photographer Syd Shelton on the vanishing East End.

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