Grayson Perry calls art world 'disengaged'

Grayson Perry Perry won the Turner prize in 2003

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Former Turner prize-winner Grayson Perry has called the art establishment disengaged "with the real world".

The cross-dressing artist, known for his often sexually explicit ceramic work, told the Radio Times: "There is no popular wing to it."

Citing Scottish painter Jack Vettriano and street artist Banksy, he said: "You won't find them hanging in the Tate."

Perry is curating an exhibition, The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, at the British Museum until 19 February.

Perry, 51, whose female alter-ego often appears in his work told an audience at the museum that he gets most of his ideas "sitting in front of the telly with a beer, watching X Factor".

He also described Beryl Cook, whose whimsical paintings of buxom figures, as being more popular and recognisable than many of the artists featured in Britain's biggest galleries.

The artist, who has himself been exhibited at the Tate, was also dismissive of the patrons of the art world.

"I have a pot called Boring Cool People," he said. "It's decorated with pictures of the sort of people who go to contemporary art galleries."

"There is no popular wing to [the art world]," he added. "Banksy, Jack Vettriano, Beryl Cook. You won't find them hanging in the Tate. Almost because of the fact they are pop stars."

In 2003, the then-little known Banksy sneaked a painting into Tate Britain and managed to evade guards to hang it on a wall.

The picture consisted of a rural scene with an image of police tape stencilled on to it.

In 2004, Vettriano's best known painting, The Singing Butler, was sold for close to £750,000. He was also awarded an OBE for Services to the Visual Arts.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but much of the modern art in galleries is produced by those with the time, money and inclination to do so, and not necessarily based on skill. Public funded galleries should take the responsibility to show a diverse collection of work to cater for as many tastes as possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.


    1) No-one suggesting that inaccessible art shouldn't be taken out of circulation, just that it shouldn't get the disproportionate amount of publicity and publicly subsidy.

    2) As far as I'm aware, no-one gets subsidised to write a science book.


  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    The only Art the art world is good at is the Art of the Con, relying very much on the "Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome to sustain it's position.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    There are books out there that people find inaccesible-they are too hard for the majority- therefore, they should be taken out of publication (according to much of this logic) & the same goes for science.Grayson Perry would not be where he is today without the establishment- why is he so down on his own people?Most art that is popular now was once unpopular. Galleries have dumbed down enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I can appreciate some modern art. I was in MOMA the other day and there was a simple piece which was a series of books with nothing but printed years from 1 million years ago where a human lifetime was a fraction of a single page, Gave a nice sense of perspective.

    The stuff I can't stand is the 'art' that's considered valuable for simply being 'shocking' and 'new' without really saying anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    I am constantly amazed by how many so called art pieces show little artistic ability. Often it is some idea that a piece of jumble or everyday material that someone claims represents something else. That is just marketing not art. So if I am out of touch with what art is then great!

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    "Managing the Tate might have something to do with it."

    Does it? if the sole selling point of the Tate is that it's got "good" art in it, and "good" art is defined as what the Tate chooses to exhibit, what does that prove?

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    The art world and the real world have never been engaged, it's criminal that public money funds these ego trips.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    All art is useless. All artists equally so.

    Make your own art! There are enough art shops out there, enough how-to books, enough tutorials on youtube. By paint and paper, read the books, watch the vids, paint the pictures, photograph them, stick them on a website - you're an artist with a gallery.

    Now go forth and sell!

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Pot and kettle springs to mind here

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    I agree. The art establishment is totally out of touch. I have a degree in Art and make a living selling my work. The kind of art supported by the art establishment is for the most part, barring a few exceptions a joke. The irony being it really is a load of rubbish. A tired old joke, corny, vacuous, boring, corrupt, nepotistic and a waste of tax payers money. A cash cow for "in-crowd" snobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    "Sure, the management of the Tate may have their own views, but what makes their views superior to anyone else's?"

    Managing the Tate might have something to do with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Surely Grayson Perry whether he likes it or not is part of the very establishment, he seems to despise

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Mrs Odicean and I don't know anything about art, but we know what we like. That's why we collected a work by the once famous but now largely forgotten British artist Martin Wolk, whose work can be seen here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    So if he accepts artists are disengaged with the real world perhaps it will help them understand why most people who live in the real world and look at modern art think its a load of rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    @simon (no.7) - Hand up: I can paint. I paint figurative oils for money. The sort of stuff that is called "real art" regardless of how good it actually is. In my view the galleries and "contemporary" artists are actually fixated on popularity - Tate Modern sometimes seems like a children's play area. Art is vulnerable to social constraints, and today people are unadventurous and scared.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Who cares what I think about what he thinks about what they think

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    @limnist.I sold my house to fund my studies & have sacrificed a great deal.There is a world of difference between the self- taught 'artist' & people who have studied.I already mentioned the power of peer criticism.If you've never been to college you won't know,but gaining contacts is really hard work- it doesn't just 'happen'.Art should be for the people,but it needs its establishment too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Please, Stardog.. "self taught artists" need to eat too! Not all of us had the chance to study in the formal sense at uni/college, but have had to sell work to pay for materials.. if we've put in our 1,000 hours learning the hard way, the only difference I can see is that we don't have any handy contacts in the Art World to get our stuff into galleries. It has to stand on its own merit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Art Shmart. Chavvy Emin should get a cleaner in. And Damien ‘loadsa money’ Hirst would have been better off putting all those diamonds into some attractive jewellery; for the love of God they’d look better on a woman than on some millionaire’s side-board.


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