Grayson Perry CBE RA (born 24 March 1960) is a British eclectic contemporary artist: he is known for his ceramic vases, tapestries and cross-dressing, as well as his observations of the contemporary arts scene, and for dissecting British "prejudices, fashions, and foibles" made known through his acrivities of writer and broadcaster.
Perry has had solo exhibitions at the Bonnefantenmuseum, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Barbican Centre, the British Museum and the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Arnolfini in Bristol, The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan. His work is held in the permanent collections of the British Council and Arts Council, Crafts Council, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Tate and Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
He was awarded the Turner Prize in 2003. He was interviewed about the win and resulting press in Sarah Thornton's Seven Days in the Art World. In 2008 he was ranked number 32 in The Daily Telegraph's list of the "100 most powerful people in British culture". In 2012, Perry was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork—the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover—to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life.
Born into a working-class family, he spent an unhappy childhood moving between his parents and created a fantasy world based around his teddy in order to cope with his sense of anxiety.
He did an art foundation course at Braintree College of Further Education from 1978 to 1979. He spent a short period of his school life at King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford (KEGS), but mainly he studied for a BA in fine art at Portsmouth College of Art and Design (now the University of Portsmouth), graduating in 1982. He had an interest in film and exhibited his first piece of pottery at a New Contemporaries show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1980. In the months following his graduation he joined The Neo Naturists, a group started by Christine Binnie to revive the "true sixties spirit – which involves living one's life more or less naked and occasionally manifesting it into a performance for which the main theme is body paint". They put on events at galleries and other venues. In this time Perry was living in squats in central London.
As of 2010 he lives in north London with his wife, the author and psychotherapist Philippa Perry. They have one daughter, Florence, born in 1992.
In 2007 Perry curated an exhibition of art by prisoners and ex-offenders entitled Insider Art at the Institute of Contemporary Arts presented by the Koestler Trust, a charity which promotes art as rehabilitation in prisons, young offenders institutions and secure psychiatric units. He described the art works as "raw and all the more powerful for that".
In 2011 he returned to the annual Koestler Trust exhibition, this time held at London's Southbank Centre and judged the award winners in Art by Offenders with Will Self and Emma Bridgewater.
In 2015 he was appointed to succeed Kwame Kwei-Armah as chancellor of University of the Arts London.
Perry frequently appears in public dressed as a woman, and he has described his female alter-ego, "Claire", variously as "a 19th century reforming matriarch, a middle-England protester for No More Art, an aero-model-maker, or an Eastern European Freedom Fighter", and "a forty-something woman living in a Barratt home, the kind of woman who eats ready meals and can just about sew on a button". In his work Perry includes pictures of himself in women's clothes: for example Mother of All Battles (1996) is a photograph of Claire holding a gun and wearing a dress, in ethnic eastern European style, embroidered with images of war, exhibited at his 2002 Guerrilla Tactics show.
Mother of All Battles, From Pinterest
Perry has designed many of Claire's outfits himself. Also, fashion students at Central Saint Martins art college in London take part in an annual competition to design new dresses for Claire. An exhibition, Making Himself Claire: Grayson Perry's Dresses, was held at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, from November 2017 to February 2018.
As well as ceramics, Perry has worked in printmaking, drawing, embroidery and other textile work, film, and performance. He has written a graphic novel, Cycle of Violence.
Perry's work refers to several ceramic traditions, including Greek pottery and folk art. His vessels are made by coiling, a traditional method. Most have a complex surface employing many techniques, including glazing, incision, embossing, and the use of photographic transfers, which requires several firings. To some he adds sprigs, little relief sculptures stuck to the surface. The high degree of skill required by his ceramics and their complexity distances them from craft pottery. It has been said that these methods are not used for decorative effect but to give meaning. Perry challenges the idea, implicit in the craft tradition, that pottery is merely decorative or utilitarian and cannot express ideas.
Much of Perry's work contains sexually explicit content. Some of his sexual imagery has been described as "obscene sadomasochistic sex scenes". He also has a reputation for depicting child abuse and yet there are no works depicting sexual child abuse although We've Found the Body of your Child, 2000 hints at emotional child abuse and child neglect. In other work he juxtaposes decorative clichés like flowers with weapons and war. Perry combines various techniques as a "guerrilla tactic", using the approachable medium of pottery to provoke thought.
We've Found the Body of your Child, 2000, From Pinterest
Perry created the 15 m x 3 m The Walthamstow Tapestry in 2009. The large woven tapestry bears hundreds of brand names surrounding large figures in the stages of life from birth to death.
Walthamstow Tapestry, From Pinterest
“The Vanity of Small Differences” consists of six tapestries that tell the story of Tim Rakewell. Some of the characters, incidents and objects I have included I encountered whilst filming All in the Best Possible Taste. The tapestries tell a story of class mobility. I think nothing has such a strong influence on our aesthetic taste as the social class we grow up in.
The sketches were translated using Adobe Photoshop to design the finished images and the tapestries were woven on a computer controlled loom”.
The Vanity of Small Differences, 2012- Tapestry, wool, cotton, acrylic, polyester, silk:
Lamentation, The Upper Class at Bay, The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal, The Agony in the Car Park, The Adoration of the Cage Fighters, Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close.
All right reserved © Grayson Perry. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London / Venice
Perry produced a pair of large-scale tapestries for A House for Essex, called The Essex House Tapestries: The Life of Julie Cope in 2015. In 2015 the external work was completed on a holiday home in Wrabness, Essex, created by Perry working with Fashion Architecture Taste (FAT). It overlooks the River Stour, after a commission from Living Architecture, the charity founded by the philosopher Alain de Botton, and is known as both A House for Essex, and "Julie's House." Known affectionately by locals as the Gingerbread House after a local dog walker out walking her Jack Russells commented that the roof and ornate tiles resembled the traditional Gingerbread House style. The house encapsulates the story of Julie May Cope, a fictional Essex woman, "Born in a flood-struck Canvey Island in 1953 and mown down last year by a curry delivery driver in Colchester". Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Ellis Woodman said, "Sporting a livery of green and white ceramic tiles, telephone-box red joinery and a gold roof, it is not easy to miss. ... Decoration is everywhere: from the external tiles embossed with motifs referencing Julie's rock-chick youth to extravagant tapestries recording her life's full narrative. Perry has contributed ceramic sculptures, modelled on Irish Sheelanagigs, which celebrate her as a kind of latter-day earth mother while the delivery driver's moped has even been repurposed as a chandelier suspended above the double-height living room."
A House for Essex ("Julie's House") (2012–2015)
(Copyright for the pictures: Luke Hayes and Jack Hobhouse)
Perry made a variety of artwork used inside the house, depicting Julie Cope's life. He made a series of large-scale tapestries, The Essex House Tapestries: The Life of Julie Cope, which include "A Perfect Match" (2015) and "In Its Familiarity, Golden" (2015), and for the bedrooms, "Julie and Rob" (2013) and "Julie and Dave" (2015). He also wrote an essay, "The Ballad of Julie Cope" (2015) and created a series of black and white woodcuts, Six Snapshots of Julie (2015). The work was shown in an exhibition, Grayson Perry: The Life of Julie Cope, at Firstsite in Colchester, Essex, from January to February 2018.
The oldest auction result ever registered on the website for an artwork by this artist is a objects sold in 2003, at Bonhams, and the most recent auction result is a sculpture-volume sold in 2021. Artprice.com's price levels for this artist are based on 429 auction results. Especially: objects, print-multiple, sculpture-volume, tapestry, drawing-watercolor, ceramic, painting. One art work by artist Grayson PERRY (1960) will soon be available in auction rooms.
In Artprice.net's ranking, Perry is ranked 591st and, despite $100 invested in a work by Grayson PERRY in 2005 would be worth an average of $54 (-46%) in December 2020, his price evolution in 2020 is +15,8% with 49 pieces sold ($995,960).
His main market is predictably the United Kingdom, ($9,517,840), followed by the U.S., Germany, Italy and France, and its best-selling piece, its vases, account for 70% of its sales.