Tracey Emin sells new painting for £2.3 million to fund art studio

Tracey Emin’s new, searingly personal painting has sold for a whopping £1.9 million (£2.3 million with fees) at Christie’s, four times over its low estimate. The renowned artist will use the money to support her artists’ studio complex in Margate. “It’s amazing. It’s going to make a massive difference,” marvelled Emin. “The support for what I’m doing in Margate is phenomenal.”

Created in 2022, ‘Like A Cloud of Blood’ was one of the first paintings Emin produced after her recent surgery for bladder cancer. The deeply intimate piece played an integral part in the artist’s emotional recovery from a gruelling illness she believed she would die from. “I wasn’t supposed to survive,” she reflected. “It made me think about the future.”

Despite her love for the poignant painting, Emin consigned it to Christie’s to foster emerging artists. And on Thursday it blew the estimate of £500,000 to £700,000 out of the water. It fell just shy of her auction record of £2.5 million, made with the provocative ‘My Bed’ (1998) in 2014 at Christie’s.

As one of the Young British Artists of the 1980s, Emin shook up the British art scene with her uninhibited autobiographical works. In 2017 Emin returned to Margate, where she had spent her childhood, after working her seminal years in London. She soon decided to establish the art school TKE Studios (named for Tracey Karima Emin) in her hometown.

Most artists in big cities are being chased out by developers. Margate is welcoming artists and their creative energy,” explained Emin.

The artist has transformed a former Edwardian bathhouse and mortuary into 12 subsidised studios, which will act as a hub for early career artists to work, discuss, and exchange ideas. There will also be a bookshop, an exhibition programme, and up to 20 two-year residencies with free studios, tutorials, and lectures.

Teachers include the visual artist Jake Chapman, contemporary sculptor Rachel Whiteread, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, and the Guardian’s art critic Jonathan Jones. Online applications close next week for the residencies, which will begin in January 2023.

I don’t want to die being an artist that made really interesting work. I want to make a future,” Emin remarked. “If my art can make something happen for the future, then I’m doing the right thing. I’ve been all the way around the world in all directions and come back again. And this, Margate, is what I’ve chosen.”

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