PRINT February 1995


EVERY ARTIST HAS A STORY to tell, but we tend to remember best those artists who know that the first principle of storytelling depends on setting the scene and getting the details right. We don’t really care that Joseph Beuys’ tale of his exploits as a Luftwaffe pilot is basically a fabrication, or that Jasper Johns’ dreamscape account of his notorious Flag of 1958 isn’t really much of an explanation. The “art” of being an artist might be construed as the job of telling the story of becoming an artist, but what are we to make of those perplexing works where the subject matter and the way it is staged—crudely, the ground and the work—are presented as one and the same?

Enter Tracey Emin—half British, half Turkish, half a twin—whose art suggests she is Sandra Bernhard and Beuys rolled into one. Emin knows a good story when she weaves one; with every one of her projects set against her life,

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