The Obscenity and Heartache in Tracey Emin’s Neon Signs

Tracey Emin at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 2014
Tracey EminTrust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA, 2014
Photo: Daniel Portnoy/mocanomi.org

Introduction

Neon lights are commonly used to make attractive business signs and are mostly preferred for outdoor use especially at night. The colorful array of neon light options makes it a creative marketing tool since lights are used to illuminate an underlying text message or image.

Tracey Emin’s neon works

There is no limit to what medium an artist can use to express themselves and for Tracey Emin (b.1963), it has been over 26 years of using neon consistently as a creative medium. The process of creating an art piece for her often begins with coming up with a message, usually a thought or a feeling. This is then followed by bending light tubes to assume the curves and profile of what has been written.

What inspired her?

Emin’s created her first neon work in 1995. She grew in Margate, a town where she was always near a neon sign. This material helped her capturing and showcasing emotions, all while retaining good attention to detail.

What makes her neon pieces unique?

Many artists have used neon lights as a medium since the 1960s but while many preferred to use molded letters and neutral writing, Tracey Emin stands out because she has chosen to use her own handwriting in combination with powerful statements. Art critics will admit that using one’s own handwriting is rather daring but also a way to stamp personality and individuality in all pieces created.

Emin in her own words

Emin once said, “Neon is emotional for everybody, the neon and argon gases make us feel positive, that’s why you have neon at funfairs, casinos, red-light districts, and bars. It’s also to do with the way it electronically pulsates around the glass, it’s a feel-good factor. Neon can help people who suffer from depression.

Kate Moss & why one of Emin’s works landed in a trashcan

Tracey Emin created a neon sign for Kate Moss and she left that in the basement. She didn’t have room to store her artwork, but at one point it was throw in a trashcan near Spitalfields and a passer-by acquired that.

Conclusion

It is ironic how the artist uses simple every day phrases to provoke feelings and thoughts in the audience. By expressing her own emotions, thoughts, and aspirations, she connects to the soul of the observers. This is the role that art should play in people’s lives and finding the best medium to achieve it is the greatest hurdle for many. By incorporating poetry, mystery, color and light into an art piece, the artist immortalizes herself in the work she does.

Exhibition photos – Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami

Tracey Emin at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 2014
Tracey EminTrust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA, 2014
Photo: Daniel Portnoy/mocanomi.org

Tracey Emin at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 2014
Tracey EminTrust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA, 2014
Photo: Daniel Portnoy/mocanomi.org

Tracey Emin at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 2014
Tracey EminTrust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA, 2014
Photo: Daniel Portnoy/mocanomi.org

Tracey Emin at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 2014
Tracey EminTrust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA, 2014
Photo: Daniel Portnoy/mocanomi.org

Neon Lights

Tracey Emin - Be Faithful to Your Dreams, 1998, blue neon on plexiglas, 40.5 x 223.5 x 7.5 cm
Tracey EminFaithful to Your Dreams, 1998, blue neon on plexiglas, 40.5 x 223.5 x 7.5 cm

Tracey Emin - Her Soft Lips Touched Mine and Every Thing Became Hard, 2008, neon, 99.7 x 213.8 cm
Tracey EminHer Soft Lips Touched Mine and Every Thing Became Hard, 2008, neon, 99.7 x 213.8 cm

Tracey Emin - I Cried Because I Love You, 2015
Tracey EminI Cried Because I Love You, 2015

Tracey Emin - I Kiss You, 2004
Tracey EminI Kiss You, 2004

Tracey Emin - I Listen to The Ocean And All I Hear is You, 2011, Neon, 91 x 211 cm
Tracey EminI Listen to The Ocean And All I Hear is You, 2011, Neon, 91 x 211 cm

Tracey Emin - I Loved You More Than I Can Love, 2009, Neon, 76.2 × 191.7 cm
Tracey EminI Loved You More Than I Can Love, 2009, Neon, 76.2 × 191.7 cm

Tracey Emin - Is Legal Sex Anal?, 1998, pink neon, 34 x 148 cm
Tracey EminIs Legal Sex Anal?, 1998, pink neon, 34 x 148 cm

Tracey Emin - Meet me in Heaven I will wait For You, 2004, Blue neon, 32.5 x 164.1 cm
Tracey EminMeet me in Heaven I will wait For You, 2004, Blue neon, 32.5 x 164.1 cm

Tracey Emin - Meet Me In Heaven I Will Wait For You, 2016, 110 x 359 cm
Tracey EminMeet Me In Heaven I Will Wait For You, 2016, 110 x 359 cm

Tracey Emin - She Lay down Deep Beneath The Sea, 2012
Tracey EminShe Lay down Deep Beneath The Sea, 2012

Tracey Emin - Trust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA
Tracey EminTrust Yourself, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, USA, 2014

Tracey Emin - With You I Want To Live, 2008, neon, 76.2 x 99.1 x 5.7 cm
Tracey EminWith You I Want To Live, 2008, neon, 76.2 x 99.1 x 5.7 cm

Tracey Emin - Your Lips Moved Across My Face, 2015
Tracey EminYour Lips Moved Across My Face, 2015

Tracey Emin - Your Name Try Cunt International, 2004
Tracey EminYour Name Try Cunt International, 2004

Neon hearts

Tracey Emin - For You, 2008, neon, 186 x 174 cmTracey EminFor You, 2008, neon, 186 x 174 cm

Tracey Emin - I promise to Love You, 2010, Neon, 145.8 x 143 cm
Tracey EminI promise to Love You, 2010, Neon, 145.8 x 143 cm

Tracey Emin - People Like You Need To Fuck People Like Me, 2007, Neon, 45 x 72.01 in
Tracey EminPeople Like You Need To Fuck People Like Me, 2007, Neon, 45 x 72.01 in

Tracey Emin - The Kiss Was Beautiful, 2012, Neon 135 x 120 cm
Tracey EminThe Kiss Was Beautiful, 2012, Neon 135 x 120 cm

Tracey Emin - You Loved Me Like A Distant Star, 2016
Tracey EminYou Loved Me Like A Distant Star, 2016

Laser animation

Tracey Emin - My Heart is With You Always, 2014, laser animation, The Peninsula, Hong Kong, China
Tracey EminMy Heart is With You Always, 2014, laser animation, The Peninsula, Hong Kong, China
Photo: Art Partners/art-partners.co

Tracey Emin – My Heart is With You Always, 2014, laser animation, The Peninsula, Hong Kong, China
Tracey EminMy Heart is With You Always, 2014, laser animation, The Peninsula, Hong Kong, China
Photo: Art Partners/art-partners.co

All images by Tracey Emin/whitecube.com unless otherwise noted.

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