Perry’s abiding interest in his audience informs his choice of universally human subjects. Working in a variety of traditional media such as ceramics, cast iron, bronze, printmaking and tapestry, Perry is best known for his ability to combine delicately crafted objects with scenes of contemporary life. His subject matter is drawn from his own childhood and life as a transvestite, as well as wider social issues ranging from class and politics to sex and religion.
Taking place during the Serpentine’s popular summer season, when the parks enjoy hugely increased local and international audiences, The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!, tackles one of Perry’s central concerns: how contemporary art can best address a diverse cross section of society.
Perry said: “I am in the communication business and I want to communicate to as wide an audience as possible. Nothing pleases me more than meeting someone at one of my exhibitions from what museum people call ‘a non-traditional background.’ The new works I am making all have ideas about popularity hovering around them. What kind of art do people like? What subjects? Why do people like going to art galleries these days? What is the relationship of traditional art to social media?”
A Channel 4 documentary Grayson Perry: Divided Britain followed Perry as he created a new work for the show: his attempt to capture the thoughts of a divided country a year after the EU referendum. Harnessing social media, Perry invited the British public to contribute ideas, images and phrases to cover the surface of two enormous new pots: one for the Brexiteers and one for the Remainers. He also visited the most pro-Brexit and pro-Remain parts of the country for the programme, which is available to watch on All4.
Listen to Grayson Perry talk about his work and read his own captions to some of the pieces on our mobile tour of the exhibition, accessible in the gallery through the Serpentine’s free WiFi.