Grayson Perry

Born 1960.
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Grayson Perry Biography

English Contemporary artist Grayson Perry once described his vibrant ceramic vessels and printed tapestries as completed with a “guerrilla tactic”: the viewer is at first drawn to the artwork's decorative beauty, then confronted with the incongruously dark subject matter. A plethora of influences, from Greek pottery to folk art, inform Perry's intricately animated explorations of identity, gender, social status, sexuality and religion. Largely autobiographical, Perry’s work prominently features his female alter-ego, Claire. An evolving and multifaceted identity, Claire is both a revelation of the artist’s inner world – he began cross-dressing at a young age – and an integral part of Perry’s public persona. Rising to international fame after winning the coveted Turner Prize in 2003, Perry is also a prolific curator, writer and television presenter.

Perry was born in 1960 to a working-class family in Chelmsford, England. A troubled childhood – his mother suffered from mental illness and his stepfather was violent and abusive – led Perry to cultivate a rich imaginative life. Unwelcome at home after his family discovered his cross-dressing, Perry became involved in the local punk movement and spent time living in squat houses. He studied at Braintree College of Further Education from 1978-79 and graduated with a BA in fine arts from Portsmouth Polytechnic in 1982. Shortly thereafter, Perry developed an interest in pottery – an unorthodox choice of media – having “unwittingly stumbled across a niche that hadn’t been occupied by anybody in the art world.”

In 2002, Perry had his first major solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; the following year, he became the first ceramicist to be awarded the Turner Prize. In 2013, he was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Perry wrote and published two autobiographies: Grayson Perry: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl (2007) and The Descent of Man (2016). Additionally, he is involved with numerous television productions including the 2005 documentary Why Men Wear Frocks. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. He currently lives and works in London.

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Artist Image: 2014 Getty Images