Tracey Emin (b. 1963)
Tracey Emin (b. 1963)
Tracey Emin (b. 1963)
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We will invoice under standard VAT rules and VAT w… Read more PROPERTY SOLD BY TRACEY EMIN TO BENEFIT TKE STUDIOS

Like A Cloud of Blood

Like A Cloud of Blood
signed and dated ‘Tracey Emin 2022’ (lower right); titled ‘Like A Cloud of Blood’ (lower left)
acrylic on canvas
59 7/8 x 71 5/8in. (152 x 182cm.)
Painted in 2022
Donated by the artist.
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Summer Exhibition 2022, 2022, p. 41, no. 154.
Special notice
We will invoice under standard VAT rules and VAT will be charged at 20% on both the hammer price and buyer’s premium and shown separately on our invoice. This property is sold by Tracey Emin to benefit the Tracey Emin Foundation, which will support the work of TKE Studios, a subsidised professional artist''s studios with an additional twenty residencies including a free arts educational program.

Brought to you by

Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Director, Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

Christie’s is delighted to present Tracey Emin’s Like A Cloud of Blood (2022): an outstanding, deeply personal large-scale painting sold by the artist to benefit her pioneering TKE Studios in Margate. Named after her own initials—Tracey Karima Emin—this revolutionary studio complex and residency programme will aim to foster new generations of talent, and to create a thriving artistic hub in her home town.

Having repeatedly referenced her Margate upbringing throughout her oeuvre, Emin has become a passionate cultural advocate for the Kent seaside town since returning in 2017: in August this year, the Margate Charter Trustees granted her the title Honorary Freewoman of Margate, making her the first person in fifty years—and only the fourth woman in history—to receive the distinction. Located just five minutes from her own workspace, TKE Studios is set in a former bathhouse and mortuary. With twelve subsidised professional artist studios, a rigorous exhibition cycle and two-year residencies for fifteen students with free studios, tutorials and lectures, Emin hopes to create an inspirational ‘artists’ haven’, governed by an ethos of intergenerational dialogue, creative commitment and spirited debate and critique.

In order to raise funds for the project, Emin is offering a work that she describes as ‘my favourite painting.’ Painted in her first wave of creativity after her recovery from bladder cancer in 2020, it captures the powerful release of emotion and energy she experienced after a long period of being unable to make art. ‘I thought, “wow, this is a painting that’s really important to me”, she has explained. ‘... I’m gonna hold onto it forever because this painting really explains how I’m feeling at the moment ... it was kind of full of all this angst [and] energy ... it was like this sort of explosion of everything that I was feeling.’ The title Like A Cloud of Blood, she explains, reflects this stance: ‘it was like everything about me, that’s alive coming out and going through me and going around ... like I could live outside of myself ... I don’t have children. And I think when you have children, your blood [and] your DNA carries on ... What I’m presenting to the world is my work and my paintings. So this painting in particular is like one of my children.’

As demonstrated by her current exhibition at Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh, Emin’s recent paintings represent a vital new chapter in her rich, autobiographical practice. More keenly attuned than ever before to the power and fragility of the human form, they offer visceral expressions of hope, turmoil, pain and healing. Emin’s long and complex relationship with paint has often been deeply tied to her own body. Her pregnancy in 1990 prompted her to give up the medium at an early stage in her career, unable to shake the nausea induced by the smell of oil paint. Six years later, her seminal installation Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made (1996) saw her paint naked before a live audience for three weeks in a bid to vanquish the feelings of guilt and failure she had come to attach to the medium. The major surgery she endured as part of her cancer treatment marked a new phase in this ongoing dialogue. Riddled with the long-standing influence of Egon Schiele and Edvard Munch—whom she exhibited opposite at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, shortly after receiving her all-clear—Like A Cloud of Blood sees body and paint become one, the curves and undulations of the flesh dissolving into fleeting, abstract gestures and carnal rivers of pigment.

It was Emin’s experience of cancer, notably, that played a key role in her decision to found TKE Studios, furnishing her with a renewed sense of positivity and desire to bring about change. That drive, too, was a key strand of the Royal Academy’s 2022 Summer Exhibition theme ‘climate’, which drew together ideas about crisis, opportunity, memory and transformation. Unveiled at the heart of the show, the present work is less a portrait than a bodily ‘landscape’, its swathes of pink, violet, cream and red churning with the vitality of Cy Twombly’s visceral battlegrounds or J. M. W. Turner’s luminous seascapes. The latter—who famously claimed that Margate’s skies were ‘the loveliest in all Europe’—has frequently been juxtaposed with Emin. Here, the comparison extends to the work’s titular ‘cloud’ of blood, which seems to billow across the canvas as if swept by a ferocious storm. A dark black void looms large in the background, erupting into blinding flashes of white light. Paint accumulates and disperses in atmospheric layers, bursting into fragmented, flesh-toned rivulets that trickle down the canvas like rain. The body, meanwhile, flickers like an illusion, as if wrestling with the forces of nature. It is a thrilling, poignant vision of the human condition, eternally poised on the precipice of being.

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