“I don’t care how I’ll be remembered after death. For all I know people will put all my work in a skip the next day”.
“Perry, c’est fou,” announces Liberation newspaper. They’ve just queued and viewed “Vanity, Identity, Sexuality” (a play on the French motto “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”), the hugely popular exhibition at La Monnaie de Paris.
Who is Grayson Perry?
A wildly eccentric English artist, sculptor, potter, transvestite, winner of the Turner Prize (2003), accepting the prestigious award dressed as Claire – his alter ego – he commented, “it’s about time a cross-dressing transvestite potter won this!”
On his Twitter account, he’s an “artist, broadcaster, transvestite, lecturer, worshipper of teddy bears, telly addict, likes being on two wheels.”
Born in Chelmsford, Essex in 1960, married to Philippa, a psychotherapist, and with a journalist daughter Florence, Perry lives and works in the UK where his “A House for Essex” – Julie’s house – designed by FAT Architecture and Perry – is both an artwork and the setting for various works by Perry exploring the special character and unique qualities of Essex. The building evokes the tradition of wayside and pilgrimage chapels – belonging to a history of follies, while also being deeply of its own time.
At La Monnaie de Paris we follow Perry, over two floors of the magnificent space that overlooks the Seine, from his childhood, and we learn that he’s been a transvestite since he was 9 and that his mum ran off with the milkman! Since that day Perry put his trust in his teddy bear, calling him Alain Measles (“because I bonded with the boy next door when we both got sick at the same time – his name was Alan!”)
For his first ever exhibition in France, Perry has given a place of honor to his beloved Teddy. You’ll meet Measles (Kenilworth AM1 2010) who travels with Perry on the back of the gleaming custom made motor-bike. Or dressed as an astronaut “Alan Measles and Claire Visit the Rust Belt” with President Trump depicted kissing Measle’s hand as Melania, Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen look on… with a nod and a wink to Brexit, Claire’s hand is held by Jeremy Corbyn while Boris Johnson and Theresa May observe. “Alan is a traditional hero who’s going to sort out the mess,” explains Grayson/Claire.
The totally self-effacing Perry works alone, “I’m a quality control freak; I can’t trust anyone else to make my mistakes,” he insists.
The show at La Monnaie is divided into themes so you really feel as if you’re spending the day getting to know and love the artist. Identity: Masculinity: (New) Masculinity: Hospitality: Historicity: Antiquity: Sexuality: Society: Divinity: Vanity.
Like it or loathe it you won’t want to miss making Claire/Grayson your NBF together with an incredible cast of characters that reflect England as it is today. The works, in traditional materials such as ceramics, bronze, cast iron, printmaking and tapestry, offer an ironic and darkly humorous look at universal topics such as identity, gender, class, religion and sexuality. Paris may not have seen anything quite like this before!
Until 3rd February, 2019
La Monnaie de Paris, 11 quai de Conti, 6th. Tel: +33 (0)1 40 46 57 57. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11am – 7pm. Wednesday until 9pm
Note in your calendar:
Wednesday 21st November, 2018 at 7:30 pm:
A Meeting with “Grayson Perry and Claire” Perry by Perry (in English only)
Entry €7 – reserve on www.monnaiedeparis.fr
Where to Eat:
Continue the art experience at Restaurant Guy Savoy housed in the same building. The handsome high ceilinged 60-seat space (designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte) has enchanting views of the Seine and the Pont Neuf. It’s divided into six elegant salons, one with a ceiling painting by Fabrice Hyber, one named for Savoy’s Las Vegas eatery, all punctuated with eclectic contemporary artwork, and sculptures.
At the top of the red carpet staircase leading to the restaurant a bold neon sign reads: “Cooking is the art of instantly transforming produce suffused with history into happiness”.
The chef tells BP, “I am always intrigued by the world and lifestyle of artists, my first meeting with Grayson Perry took place in my kitchen – we had lunch together. I have to say I was seduced by the being, by his vision and his joy. It’s delightful to have him as a neighbor for the duration of the unique exhibition just across the hallway from the restaurant.”
Restaurant Guy Savoy, 11 Quai de Conti, 6th. Tel: +33 (0)1 43 80 40 61. Closed Sunday-Monday. Valet Parking