Playing to the Gallery: Helping Contemporary Art in Its Struggle to Be Understood

Grayson Perry. Penguin Books, $25 (140p) ISBN 978-0-143-12735-2
Perry’s sharp wit and artistic acumen combine for a delightful tour through the issues facing contemporary art world in this series of essays. Perry, winner of the Turner Prize and known for his cross-dressing and ceramic pottery, illustrates his ideas throughout the book with good humor and grace. He displays considerable insight into the state of mainstream art, focusing on basic ideas of taste and democratic appeal. Perry’s interest is primarily in quality and taste: How do we know whether art is any good? Should popularity, sale price, or reviews determine what is truly the best work? What if it makes a political statement? Perry’s shrewd ability to simplify complex issues about contemporary art is rare and speaks to his clarity of vision as an artist and thinker. He neatly pinpoints how the fickle world of contemporary art worries too much about falling into middlebrow and he offers several of his personal “boundaries” to help readers determine whether something qualifies as art. Along the way, Perry mocks the pomposity of the highbrow, exclusive realm of galleries and museums, but he does so with the awareness that he himself has become an insider. Perry’s fun and wonderful book is a necessary addition to a world that must continue to ask difficult questions of art. 40 color illus. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/09/2015
Release date: 05/05/2015
Compact Disc - 978-1-4815-0619-9
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-1-84614-857-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-4815-0618-2
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