Rollercoaster of emotions: Tracey Emin at the Leopold Museum

"Where I Want to Go": First exhibition in Austria of England’s art superstar and her first artistic dialogue with Egon Schiele

Vienna (OTS) – Entitled “TRACEY EMIN I EGON SCHIELE. WHERE I WANT TO GO”, the Leopold Museum presents the first exhibition in Vienna of the British artist Tracey Emin (born in 1963).Emin, a superstar, enfant terrible of contemporary art and one of the leading figures of the “Young British Artists” engages in a fascinating artistic dialogue, as she not only presents around 50 of her own works but has also incorporated a personal selection of some 20 drawings and poems by Egon Schiele into the exhibition.

Franz Smola: Emin’s encounter with Schiele – getting to know Schiele’s oeuvre up close

Franz Smola, the Museological Director of the Leopold Museum (interim), and Peter Weinhäupl, the Managing Director of the Leopold Museum, are delighted with the museum’s comprehensive focus on Schiele. Alongside the current exhibition on Schiele’s partner Wally Neuzil and the new presentation of the museum’s permanent collection, Emin’s view of Schiele allows for an entirely new approach to the artist’s oeuvre.

Franz Smola: "We definitely owe the fact that Tracey Emin is now exhibiting at the Leopold Museum to the main emphasis of our collection – the works of Egon Schiele. For Emin has always been fascinated by Schiele’s oeuvre. The artist initially familiarised herself with Schiele’s works through reproductions and later admired originals at exhibitions in New York and, most recently, in London. But it was only here and now that she has had ample opportunity to get to know Schiele’s work up close."

Tremendous media interest – Tracey posing for the cameras

The media took a tremendous interest in Tracey Emin’s exhibition already in the run-up to the presentation. British media extensively covered Tracey’s trip to Vienna, with the BBC accompanying the artist during the set-up of the exhibition, while the Austrian broadcaster ORF visited Emin in London. During a photo shoot following the press conference, Emin posed in front of her masterpieces, seemingly merging with her large-scale installations, embroideries and sculptures.

Diethard Leopold: Graphic dialogue – sensuality, desire and transience

Tracey Emin and the exhibition’s curators Diethard Leopold and Karol Winarczyk decided from the outset that the exhibition should not be a mere juxtaposition of works by two great artists, but rather the venue of a poetic debate between them. For the curator Diethard Leopold the exhibition is a dialogue focused on graphic works and dominated by "sensuality, loneliness, desire, longing, love, hopelessness and transience. Above all, it is an exhibition about life".

Tracey Emin: Liberating Schiele and speaking to the dead

Tracey Emin termed this entirely new presentation of Schiele’s works in an international context an act of liberation. She called Schiele a prisoner of his nationality, arguing that Vienna thought it owned Schiele, the way Munch was claimed by the Norwegians and Picasso by the French, even though he wasn’t even French. She further elaborated that the she could not identify with the traditional manner of hanging artworks, one image next to the other like a wallpaper, with visitors looking from each work down to the information panel next to it and up again, their heads bobbing up and down like that of a dog. She calls her approach to Schiele an almost “romantic” one: “It’s as if you were talking to the dead. You think: ‘What would the artist have said about this different type of hanging?’”.

Karol Winiarczyk: Fantastic experiences with Tracey – inner fire and authenticity

Karol Winiarczyk called his collaboration with Tracey Emin a fantastic experience. Addressing the artist directly, he said: "I have learned a great deal and you have learned a lot about your relationship with Schiele", adding that the dialogue with Schiele worked. He continued that he was impressed with the artist’s "inner fire" which takes visitors on an "aesthetic journey". Winiarczyk said he was particularly impressed with the exhibition’s sound installation, with Tracey’s voice taking centre stage for the first time: "Her voice conveys authenticity, her timbre is wonderful. It works brilliantly."

The exhibition: A rollercoaster of emotions

Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are confronted with a rollercoaster of emotions spanning some one hundred years of art history. Emin’s monumental installation "It’s Not the Way I Want to Die" (2005), her recollection of a rollercoaster that had featured in a recurring nightmare, is presented alongside Schiele’s work “Mountain on the River”, a landscape of the soul created in 1910. It is the only Schiele painting shown in the exhibition, as Emin prefers Schiele’s works on paper for her dialogue with his oeuvre.

Gouaches and embroideries

The awe-inspiring, large-scale embroideries based on Emin’s gouaches show couples making love and are a prelude to the theme of nudes that dominates the exhibition. While Emin focuses on faceless female nudes in different poses, Schiele rendered his own body as well as male and female nudes in equal measure.

Explicit: Desire and suffering

Bright rooms lead into deep blue exhibition spaces. One is dominated by a brightly glowing, white-patinated bronze sculpture of a grotto. It shows a torso sitting inside a pointy stone grotto. The work is juxtaposed with a dynamic and explicit animation depicting masturbation ("Suffer Love") as well as Schiele’s coloured drawing "Reclining Youth" which emanates a sense of inner calm and resembles a sleeping bird of paradise.

More Solitude

The neon installation "More Solitude" is a testament to the artist’s need for solitude, which she feels has a positive effect on her creative process. Under the heading "More Solitude", this room is dedicated entirely to poetry. Schiele’s calligraphic poems are presented in the context of a sound installation of Tracey Emin reciting her own poetry for the first time.

Emin: I love animals

Stirring works, such as the bronze "Crucifixion", lead to calmer subjects, including her sculptures with animal depictions. They illustrate Emin’s love for animals, for instance for the fox that visits her in her garden in the South of France ("You have no idea how safe you make me feel"). Emin: "I love animals."

Solitary strength

The series of "Lonely Chair drawings", depicting a solitary woman sitting in a chair, conveys an amazing strength amidst loneliness. The exhibition is concluded by two incredibly condensed bronze torsos which, according to Diethard Leopold, "are an invitation to an inner encounter owing to their incredibly tactile surfaces". These sculptures are surrounded by select Schiele drawings depicting nudes, a self-portrait and torsos.

A comprehensive catalogue has been published on the occasion of the exhibition, featuring essays by Diethard Leopold and Thomas Trummer as well as an extensive interview conducted by Karol Winiarczyk with Tracey Emin. 136 pages, 91 illustrations, price: € 22.90.

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