This signed etching from 2013 is a limited edition of 80 from Grayson Perry’s Maps collection. The horizontal etching is rendered in the manner of an antique map and depicts an imaginary island shaped after the Italian city of Venice. At the centre of the fictitious city, a small castle is named “kitsch” and is connected through a railway of bridges and streets to the church of “Hubris”, “Hippie Crafts”, theory and, most importantly, “Biennale", in allusion to the celebrated art biennial held in Venice.
Grayson Perry’s fascination with maps is evident in his multiple renditions of fictitious cityscapes and nations, such as in Map Of Nowhere or Map Of An Englishman. For The Island of Bad Art, Perry drew from 16th-century maps of Venice. The etching presents the viewer with an ironic and parodic pun on the art showcased biannually in the Italian city, offering a commentary on the taste, or lack of, found in the art exhibition.
The etching was displayed on the occasion of the exhibition Multiple Thoughts, hosted by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, for their 250th anniversary. That same year, Perry curated the RA’s Summer Exhibition, displaying his famous print Selfie with a Political Cause. Once again for this exhibition Perry and a selection of other Royal Academicians were asked to produce a print, the exhibition being in celebration of printmaking. “Artists have always been excited by the possibilities of using printing as an original and expressive medium. From Rembrandt to David Hockney and from Hokusai to Tracey Emin, printmaking has expanded the range and reach of authentic creative ideas. Print opens to artists methods of making through collaboration in craft and technology.” , said Chris Orr.
Displayed side by side with works by John Carter and Rebecca Salter, this work thus attests both to Perry’s well-recognised presence within the art establishment and to his desire to engage with questions of collective taste and art-making with his distinctive humoristic attitude.