Tracey Emin’s Turner prize nominated ‘My Bed’, which recently sold at Christie’s for £2.5m is not the real deal an expert has said. The British Art Historian Martin Kemp (no relation to Martin Kemp of the band Spandau Ballet) claims that Tracey Emin’s best known installation, My Bed (1998) was never actually slept in, by the artist.
My Bed was said to have been made in Emin’s Waterloo council flat in 1998. It was purchased by Charles Saatchi who recently sold the sculpture for mega-£££ to raise funds for his gallery. Referred to by the artist as an unconventional and uncompromising self-portrait through objects, it features the artist’s own bed covered in stained sheets, discarded condoms, blood-stained underwear and empty bottles of alcohol. The piece gives a snapshot of the artist’s life after a traumatic relationship breakdown and was shortlisted for the 1999 Turner Prize.
Mr Kemp, stated in the Sunday Times, “the manner in which the bed’s sheets have been arranged in his multiple viewings of the work do not correspond to the creases that would form by a person lying down and sleeping in it. Similarly, he suggests that the pillows are not dented as would occur by someone resting their head on them”.
Kemp who is not a contemporary art expert, but a specialist on the work of Leonardo da Vinci and professor of History of Art at Oxford stated to the Sunday Times; “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 – It’s not just some things not arranged scrupulously, which is fine. They’re actually different items.”
Emin told The Sunday Times that the bed came from her flat, but eluded that the exact arrangement of the installation and objects that made up the artwork were intended to replicate the concept of her four days in bed, rather than reproducing the reality of the situation, in exact detail.
The work was acquired in July 2014 on behalf of Count Duerckheim by Jay Jopling, owner of White Cube. The collector has generously placed the work on semi -permanent loan to the Tate for a minimum of 10 years.