Grayson Perry – The Vanity of Small Differences

Until Sunday 8th December


Description & further information

“An excellent satire on class, wealth and contemporary society.” – Londonist

Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences opens at Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery this July–December 2024. For the first time, this exhibition brings the Turner-Prize-winning artist’s six large-scale tapestries to a building where William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, the inspiration behind Perry’s tapestries, were purchased for and displayed.

Sir Grayson Perry CBE RA Hon FRIBA is an internationally celebrated chronicler of contemporary life, drawing us into intricately designed works of art with wit and nostalgia. In his work, Perry tackles subjects that are universally human: identity, gender, social status, sexuality and religion. Autobiographical references—to the artist’s childhood, his family, and his cross-dressing—can be read in tandem with questions about décor and decorum, class and taste, and the status of the artist versus that of the artisan. The exhibition invites viewers to consider their own connections with the tapestries’ vivid storytelling and rich, allegorical imagery.

The set of monumental tapestries offer a contemporary re-reading of William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, a series of eight satirical paintings depicting a riches-to-rags tale of Tom Rakewell in 18th-century London. Hogarth’s original paintings were bought by Sir John Soane’s wife 222 years ago to be displayed at Pitzhanger. The Soanes subsequently moved with their art collections to Lincoln’s Inn Fields. However, Pitzhanger continues to display a full series of framed 18th century engravings of A Rake’s Progress in their original setting of the vibrant red walls of the Soane’s drawing room. Visitors to the exhibition will be in the unique position to be able to compare and contrast both intricately detailed morality tales in the home of Hogarth’s series.

Taking Hogarth’s famed series as a starting point, Perry’s tapestries depict a corresponding fable of class, taste and social mobility. Weaving the complex ‘class journey’ of the fictional protagonist, Tim Rakewell, the tapestries include many of the characters, incidents and objects Grayson Perry encountered on his journeys throughout Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells and The Cotswolds for the BAFTA award-winning television series All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry.

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