I’m very partial to a bit of ceramics and I love innovation and experiment, but I’ve always found Grayson Perry a bit of a stretch. I don’t know whether it’s the Claire alter-ego thing, the artist-as-artwork, or the slightly knowing, sideways glance, but I’ve just had the feeling that he’s trying a little too hard. I know he’s good, in the way that I know Frank Sinatra is good, because people I respect have told me so and explained how.
This is my explained-how moment. I said I’d approach this with an open mind and be prepared to be a convert. It is, after all, a sumptuous publication that covers just about every aspect of Perry’s work (this third edition brings it up to date with A House For Essex and other new works that have appeared since the previous edition of 2013). There are as many top-quality illustrations as you could wish for and the generous page size means you can examine everything in detail.
Most artists would be glad to get a monograph at all and regard a second edition as true recognition. To have three, covering eleven years, and a cover price that’s frankly a steal suggests popularity of mammoth extent. It’s easy to see why the publisher is that confident. Perry has something for everyone and there’s an initial accessibility to his work that belies the considerable depth behind it. His pieces may attract crowds, but they are lot more than just crowd-pleasers; observation, detail and wry humour play an important part.
So, if I won the lottery would my first indulgence be a Grayson Perry piece? I’m not sure, but this gorgeous volume has taught me to appreciate him even more than I hoped it would.
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