Tracey Emin

Roman Standard (2005)

About this artwork

As Emin has stated, this work for her “represents strength but also femininity. Most public sculptures are a symbol of power which I find oppressive and dark. I wanted something that had a magic and alchemy, something which would appear and disappear and not dominate.” In comparison to her explicit monoprints or appliqué blankets, for which she is better known, ‘Roman Standard’ is a quiet, contemplative work. A small bird, cast in bronze, perches on top of a thirteen-foot-tall pole. The title refers to the ancient Roman tradition of carrying standards into battle. The work can, however, be seen as a different form of self-portrait: the bird is small and vulnerable, but at the same time, like the traditional Roman standards, is visible from a distance and commands attention.

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin

Emin was born in London and grew up in Margate. She studied at Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. Emin works in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, printmaking, film, installation, embroidery, neon and text. She uses her personal experiences to make highly confessional works in which she exposes herself, her hopes, humiliations, failures and successes in a very direct manner. Emin deals relentlessly with the minutiae of her life and with the common subjects of sexuality, mortality and what it means to be an artist. She was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1999.