Tracey Emin: Angel Without You highlights the artist’s longstanding relationship with MOCA, which became the first American museum to purchase Emin’s work when it acquired her seminal video Why I Never Became a Dancer in 1998. The video is included in the exhibition, along with Emin’s most notable neon works, including a new large-scale neon created for MOCA’s courtyard that inspires the exhibition’s title.
In 2013, Emin created and put to auction five new neon works, which raised $185,000 in support of the museum’s programming. Angel without You features several of Emin’s most notable neon works, such as Sorry Flowers Die (1999) and I can feel your smile (2005). Many of these works consist of epigrams that have been transcribed into neon from Emin’s own handwriting by neon studios working under the artist’s supervision. MOCA’s exhibition examines the importance of writing and calligraphic line in Emin’s free-floating neon works.