For this analysis I have decided to steer away from modern art and focus on a piece of postmodern art instead.
The artist I have chosen for this is Tracey Emin and the particular piece of work I would like to concentrate on is her installation piece ‘Everyone I have ever slept with 1963-1995’ (1995)
Postmodernism is a late 20th Century art movement that began after the modernism era, which was dated around 1860-1960.
Modernist artists believed art had a meaning and that life could be made better through art and rational thought. The modernists were obsessed by technique and purity of form and were true to their values such as truth to materials, form follows function, less is more and art for arts sake.
By the mid 1960’s people became more and more disillusioned about the meaning of life and art due to the holocaust and the Vietnam War and lost confidence in the modernist’s values. An onset of crisis in confidence lead to the postmodern era being born.
Postmodernism is often said to be a reaction to the modernists strict rules and can be characterised widely by the introduction of parody, pastige and irony coupled together with complexity, chaos and bricolage.
New image-based technologies such as screen-print, television, computers and video played a huge part in the rise of postmodernism. These new techniques enabled artist to create something fresh, new and different from the art being produced previously, these new techniques also meant they could create works quickly without having to rely on the traditional time consuming craftsmanship used before.
Another huge impact on the visual arts throughout the postmodern era was the growth of consumerism. Entertainment and novelty was now required by the modern consumer and an ability to experience art in a more pro-active way together with a desire to be shocked lead to artists and curators to explore more about art as a product. This was achieved by constructing new ways of viewing art, for example using video and installation and by the creation of new subject matters.
The Young British artists were particularly guilty of using these new ways of creating art and in the case of Emin the subject matter was the key ingredient to her success as a postmodern artist.
The piece ‘Everyone I have ever slept with 1963-1995’ is a small blue tent that Emin appliquéd with the names of everyone she had ever shared a bed with from the year she was born up until it was created in 1995.
People often mistake the names for people she has had sexual intercourse with one review stating 'She's slept with everyone – even the curator'! However this is not the case.
There are 102 names on there in total including ex boyfriends, family members, friends and the two foetuses she aborted.
The use of a tent for this work suggests the notion of sleeping and the shape of the tent could be described as a womb like structure in which a person could curl up into the foetal position to sleep, wombs and foetuses are subjects which appear in many of Emin’s artworks. The shape of the tent is also reminiscent of the Margate Shell Grotto where Emin is said to have spent a lot of her childhood time.
To view the work you have to crawl inside the tent, lie on your back as if sleeping and look around the inside to find an explosion of visual and textual bricolage. This has been created by appliquéing letters to the side of the tent using pieces of material that have meaning to the artist, this could be something given to her by a friend, an old blanket from her childhood or material from an old family sofa, all of which add to the autobiographical aspect of the work.
The work, which Emin refers to as ‘the tent’, is one of two seminal pieces she has created and became quite an iconic piece. It was first exhibited at the ‘Minky Manky’ show at the South London Gallery in 1995 and was later destroyed in a fire at the East London Momart Warehouse in 2004.
Emin has since refused to recreate the piece stating "I had the inclination and inspiration 10 years ago to make that, I don't have that inspiration and inclination now ... My work is very personal, which people know, so I can't create that emotion again — it's impossible."
Wikipedia. (2010) Everyone I have ever slept with 1963-1995. [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everyone_I_Have_Ever_Slept_With_1963–1995 [accessed 24 March 2010]