Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
Now Grayson Perry is a fully paid-up member of the art establishment, he wants to show that any of us can appreciate art (after all, there is a reason he's called this book Playing to the Gallery and not 'Sucking up to an Academic Elite'). Based on his hugely popular Reith Lectures and full of words and pictures, this funny, personal journey through the art world answers the basic questions that might occur to us in an art gallery but seem too embarrassing to ask. Questions such as- What is 'good' or 'bad' art - and does it even matter? Is there any way to test if something is art, other than a large group of people standing around looking at it? Is art still capable of shocking us or have we seen it all before? Can you be a 'lovable character' and a serious artist - what is a serious artist anyway? And what happens if you place a piece of art in a rubbish dump?
How does the stuff we see in art galleries or the middle of roundabouts come to be made and valued? Drawing on his life as an artist, Grayson Perry sets off to explore the boundaries and tensions at the heart of modern art, with many visual aids along the way. From the slippery subject of quality to the problem of rebelling in a world that thrives on rebellion to the tricky question of what can or can't be a work of art, Playing to the Gallery hopes to give everyone the essential tools with which to understand and appreciate art.
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Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Very few books about contemporary art are laugh-out-loud funny; Perry's is. Based on his popular BBC Reith Lectures, also called Playing to the Gallery, the title's main sections correspond to the four original 2013 lectures: "Democracy Has Bad Taste," "Beating the Bounds," "Nice Rebellion, Welcome In!" and "I Found Myself in the Art World." The author's cartoonish drawings brilliantly and hilariously punctuate observations about highbrow vs. middlebrow art, commodification, gentrification, and so on. Despite the verbal and visual comedy served alongside them, the topics are ambitious: criteria used for judging and validating art's quality, the effects of popularity, determining the boundaries of what is art, the roles of shock and revolution, art as luxury good, and the author's feelings about being an artist. Perry, whose subversive ceramics won the 2003 Turner Prize, enjoys being an eccentric ambassador from within the art world, declaring that anybody can enjoy art and work toward a rewarding life in the arts-even a transvestite potter like him. VERDICT Well read but not pretentious, skeptical but not cynical, this book will have anyone interested in (or puzzled by) contemporary art laughing as they ponder major issues that define how we think about and experience art.-Lindsay King, Yale Univ. Libs, New Haven, CT © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
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) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Published to good reviews and drawn from his BBC Reith Lectures, Perry's Playing to the Gallery offers an invitation to the world of contemporary art. His tongue-in-cheek romp through art world criticism and connoisseurship also presents a paradox in its stated purpose and the rhetorical means deployed to achieve its goals. It is easy to see how Playing to the Gallery could be construed as an introduction, but in fact Perry's book is very much an insider's work. His arch humor and pointed opinions reflect his deep comprehension of art and visual culture theory and criticism--rarified cultural capital that requires equally informed readers to parse his arguments. Those readers, however, will already be thoroughly versed in the capricious preciousness of contemporary art speak. Perry makes no bones about his goals as a cultural leveler or the irony of his own repeatedly self-stated conflicted identity as a "fully paid-up member of the Establishment" and transvestite potter. Thus, Perry lays claim to an outsider's authenticity and an insider's authority. Playing to the Gallery emerges as a provocative meditation, important for how it constructs the author and implicates readers. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate and graduate collections. --Bernard L. Herman, University of North Carolina