She might have made her bed, but did Tracey Emin ever sleep in it? That is the question raised by new research which claims that the artist’s most famous and controversial work, My Bed, may have been a clever fabrication.
Martin Kemp, emeritus professor of Art History at the University of Oxford and an expert on Leonardo da Vinci, says the creases in the autobiographical artwork’s rumpled bedclothes could not have been created by the sleeping body of the artist.
Having studied images of My Bed in the various galleries where it has been displayed over the years, the academic also points to the lack of indentations in the pillows as evidence that Emin never slept in it. The artist has previously said she spent four days in the bed getting over the break-up of a relationship.
According to Professor Kemp, the collection of cigarette butts, condoms and vodka bottles which form part of the artwork have also changed over the years. “Look at the various incarnations of My Bed and it’s clear that the detritus of Emin’s legendary four days in bed has been reconfigured a good deal,” he told The Sunday Times. “It’s not just some things not arranged scrupulously, which is fine. They’re actually different items.”
Six months ago the work was bought for £2.54 million by Count Christian Duerckheim, a German businessman, who promptly loaned it back to Tate Britain.
Emin herself did not dispute Professor Kemp’s analysis. “The bed came directly from my flat. When I say ‘My Bed’ I mean it was the idea of the artwork,” she told the newspaper.Reuse content