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Grayson
Perry

Artist, ceramicist, curator and all-around national treasure Grayson Perry is known for his original approach to politically engaged, (often wacky) artistic creations. To buy or sell prints and editions from Perry's portfolio browse available artwork from our network and enquire today. Contact us for complimentary market advice and free valuations on any print, with zero obligation to sell.

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Biography

Turner prize winner, Royal Academician and CBE Grayson Perry (and his alter-ego Claire) is best known for his quirky, politically engaged pottery and prints.

Born in Essex in 1960 to a working class family, Perry soon began kindling a love for ceramics and discovered transvestism. However, his mother did not approve of his predilection for cross-dressing, and it was only after getting kicked out of his family home that Perry decided to pursue becoming an artist.

Perry studied at Braintree College of Further Education from 1978 and received a BA in Fine Art from Portsmouth Polytechnic (now the University of Portsmouth) in 1982. Though he took part in the 'New Contemporaries' show at London’s ICA in 1980, Perry had his first solo exhibition of pottery works in 1984. The commercial success of these works and the show led him to focus more on ceramic arts rather than the short films and performance pieces he had been engaging in at the time.

Today, Grayson Perry’s art is instantly associated to colourful and witty ceramic vases, intricate tapestries and sardonic prints. Winning the Turner Prize in 2003 ensured Perry’s celebrity status in both the art world and in the mainstream media. His win was controversial not only because this was the first time the award was given to a ceramic artist, but because of Perry’s public transvestism. The judge’s verdict took hours longer than usual, but they eventually cited his 'uncompromising engagement with personal and social concerns' as reason for his win. This victory really cemented Perry’s status as a disruptor of mainstream expression and as a key player in the contemporary arts scene.

One of Perry’s most famous artworks is his 2011 Rosetta Vase, currently held by the British Museum. Originally made as part of an exhibition that Perry himself helped to curate: 'Tomb Of The Unknown Craftsman', this vase is bright yellow, decorated with blue images and text with iconography inspired by objects in the surrounding museum.

No stranger to experimenting with different media, the monumental Walthamstow Tapestry is a majestic testament to Perry’s versatility. Made in 2009, the work explores the emotional resonance of brand names in our lives and our relationship to consumerism. 15 by 3 metres, the tapestry can be read left to right and loosely outlines the seven stages of man while hundreds of brand names and buzz words surround these central figures. Currently held in the Netherlands, this work bears particular resonance with British viewers who recognise its references, notably to the suburb of Walthamstow itself, where Perry held a studio for many years.

    I Want To Be An Artist by Grayson Perry

    Image © Christie's / I Want To Be An Artist © Grayson Perry 1996

    1. £632,750 for Grayson Perry's I Want To Be An Artist

    Establishing his place as a key player in the contemporary art world with these earlier ceramic works, Perry’s acidic yellow vase sold for £632,750 at Christie's London in October 2017, making it the most expensive of his creations.

    One of the very first works sold by the artist, the vase is covered with images of famous artists - including the large Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, created via photo-transfer. It is a dedication to Perry’s own favourite artists.

    This work sets a precedent for a dissonance between the traditional medium of pottery and contemporary subject matter and decoration. - a contrast Perry consistently employs in his ceramic works. What appears to be a largely bright and cheerful ceramic is made darker when one looks closer and sees the skeleton reminding us of Basquiat's untimely death.

    The Guardians by Grayson Perry

    Image © Christie's / The Guardians © Grayson Perry 1998

    2. £443,250 for Grayson Perry's The Guardians

    Dubbed by Perry himself as his most ‘literally autobiographical work,’ The Guardians is a pair of ornamental-looking vases that remain one of the artist’s most personal, touching creations. The ‘guardians’ themselves sit atop these large vases and depict Perry’s mother and step-father, neither of whom he had a particularly easy relationship with.

    A reflection on the traumas of his own childhood, the pair sold for £443,250 at Christie’s London on 4th October 2019. Despite the more generic visual nods to classical chinoiserie and christian iconography, particularly with the use of gold, these vases are essentially self-portraits, littered with glimpses of the artist’s life. They are currently held by ceramic collectors Diane and Marc Grainer.

    Barbaric Splendour by Grayson Perry

    Image © Christie's / Barbaric Splendour © Grayson Perry 2003

    3. £224,750 for Grayson Perry's Barbaric Splendour

    Included as part of Perry’s Turner Prize Exhibition, Barbaric Splendour takes its name from a phrase from Ernst Gombrich’s A sense of Order. As is to be expected, the vase itself, while decorative at first glance, is a vessel for Perry’s contemporary social commentary. Upon closer inspection, puddles, crowded social housing and a largely sombre palette create the backdrop of a Northern working town, where the figure of the young artist himself stands amongst the scenery.

    Sold for £224,750 at Christie’s London on March 6th 2018, this work has gained notoriety since its first exhibition. As always, the conflict between ideas of class and the decorative arts is brought to the fore by the artist’s choice of subject matter. The decorative arts demand our attention, the times where indulgence in the ornate was ‘morally inferior’ are over.

    Saint Claire 37 Wanks Across Northern Spain by Grayson Perry

    Image © Christie's / Saint Claire 37 Wanks Across Northern Spain © Grayson Perry 2003