breaking up on my end while she confidently declared, “No,
it isn’t. You’re perfectly clear and you’re speaking over me.”
Well, you get the idea. The woman is the most well-
known female artist on the planet, enormously wealthy,
and has the folks you read about in Vogue on speed dial.
Her work is collected by the likes of Orlando Bloom, Elton
John, Naomi Campbell, and the aforementioned Jerry Hall.
Not to mention: Dallas’ own Goss-Michael Foundation.
Stunningly, however, a sleepy Tracey Emin was on the other
end of my phone connection—after all, it was almost eleven
in the evening in France—but there was not one rock star,
super model or (even) champagne bucket in sight. Just the
two of us. You know: engaging in a bit of art talk—which I
admit I found mildly disconcerting, given her reputation for
I mentioned a quote from her regarding the role of art.
Emin had noted that art was part of preserving culture. More
specifically, she stated, “Art is the soul of our nation… If
the soul isn’t looked after then everything will go to pieces.”
She immediately remembered the verbiage and went on the
describe art as the “custodian of the soul. Art protects the
soul and, if the soul is damaged, art is there to recognize that
fact.” She added, “There’s never been a moment when I was
not creative, and art was there like a safety net.” The last bit
was uttered with heartfelt insistence. And who could disagree?
This is sounding quite buttoned-down and straightforward
rather than a quote that could be chalked up as the ramblings
of the art world’s outré renegade. Emin is now past fifty and
was recently made Royal Academician by the Royal Academy
of Arts. Her days of boozing and televised, blush-inducing
invectives may be on the wane. Plus, her blunt desire to
preserve and protect both our collective and individual
psyches is both laudable and completely irresistible.
Gavin Delahunty, the Hoffman Family Senior Curator of
Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, states that
her work, “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With, was an absolute sea
change moment in the art world, along with My Bed.” He also
notes that her work displays a vivid brand of “exploration
and poetics, a confused anxiety—but she has emerged as a
powerful and influential artist. It is now clear to everyone that
her work has had a huge impact on art-making throughout
Tracey Emin reads from Strangeland at Goss-Michael Foundation.
Courtesy Goss-Michael Foundation