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Tracey Emin's first American museum exhibition opens at MOCA, North Miami
Tracey Emin, Meet Me in Heaven I will wait FOr You, 2004/2011. Neon (fluorescent rose pink). ©the artist and Courtesy of Lehmann Maupin, New York and White Cube, London.
NORTH MIAMI, FL.- The Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami kicked off Art Basel Miami Beach 2013 with the opening of Tracey Emin: Angel without You, the first American museum exhibition dedicated to the acclaimed British artist Tracey Emin. On view from December 4, 2013 through March 9, 2014, Tracey Emin: Angel without You is the first-ever exhibition to focus on Emin’s use of neon, an important material in her practice, beginning with her iconic The Tracey Emin Museum (1995), which opens the show. The exhibition explores how Emin’s neons played an essential role in the development of her work, marking a shift from her early diaristic and confessional style to a more cryptic, multifaceted form of expression. Organized by MOCA as part of the Knight Exhibition Series, Tracey Emin: Angel without You comprises more than 60 works that span the past two decades. The exhibition title is drawn from a new large-scale neon work Emin has created in MOCA’s courtyard for the exhibition.

Tracey Emin: Angel without You reflects the artist’s longstanding relationship with MOCA, which became the first American museum to purchase one of Emin’s works when it acquired her seminal film Why I Never Became a Dancer in 1998. The film—which depicts scenes of Emin’s childhood home of Margate, replete with vintage neon signs—explores the story of Emin’s own tumultuous adolescence and loss of innocence, is included in the exhibition. In 2013, Emin created and put to auction five new neon works, which raised $185,000 in support of the museum’s programming.

Angel without You features several of Emin’s most notable neon works, such as Sorry Flowers Die (1999) and I can feel your smile (2005). Many of these works consist of epigrams that have been transcribed into neon from Emin’s own handwriting by neon studios working under the artist’s supervision. MOCA’s exhibition examines the importance of writing and calligraphic line in Emin’s free-floating neon works.

“As a towering figure in Britain’s contemporary art community—and arguably one of the most significant female artists of her generation—Tracey Emin is long overdue for a solo museum exhibition in the United States,” said the exhibition’s curator, former MOCA director Bonnie Clearwater. “Tracey Emin: Angel without You marks an unprecedented exploration of Tracey’s neon sculptures—a medium that is not only appropriate to the neon-rich cityscape of South Florida, but has its origins in Emin’s hometown as captured in the film Why I Never Became a Dancer.”

“After helping to introduce Tracey Emin to US audiences with our acquisition of Why I Never Became a Dancer, MOCA is thrilled to welcome Tracey back to Miami for her American solo museum debut,” said MOCA’s interim director and chief curator Alex Gartenfeld. “This exhibition advances MOCA’s longstanding commitment to showcasing the leading voices in contemporary art, especially internationally established and emerging artists who have been under-recognized in the United States.”

Emin’s works are frequently inspired by the subject of love and the artist’s search for it and are highly regarded for the universality of the poignant and painful complexity their messages convey. Emin often substitutes pronouns for individual names in such works as Love is What You Want (2011) or You Forgot to Kiss My Soul (2001), so that the phrases can be read as an instance of Emin addressing herself, her viewer, her lover, or even God. Others, such as Emin’s 2012 Nothing is Real, are figurative sculpture created from contiguous neon tubing.

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