The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation (PEF) has awarded the Erasmus Prize 2020 to British visual artist Grayson Perry, making Perry the first British visual artist to win the prestigious prize since 1968. It includes €150,000 in prize money.
The theme of the Erasmus Prize this year is ´The power of the image in the digital era’. The PEF stated that "at a time when we are constantly bombarded with images, Perry has developed a unique visual language, demonstrating that art belongs to everybody and should not be an elitist affair. Perry receives the prize for the insightful way he tackles questions of beauty and craftsmanship while addressing wider social and cultural issues."
One of the best-known British artists of today, Perry's work uses a wide variety of techniques and materials, with work ranging from large woodcuts, tapestries and cast-iron sculptures to prints, dresses and even an entire house.
Perry also engages with public life beyond the walls of the museum and art gallery. He has written and presented documentary programmes about class, taste, masculinity and identity, and has written accompanying books.
Grayson Perry won the 2003 Turner Prize and received a royal distinction (CBE) as well as a number of BAFTA awards for his documentary series, among them All in the Best Possible Taste (2013), about taste and social class in modern-day England, and Who Are You? (2014), about identity, which was accompanied by an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. His documentary series All Man (2016) examines masculinity and gender stereotyping, which were also the subjects of his book The Descent of Man. Perry’s work is held in museum collections all over the world, among them the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In 2016 he had an exhibition at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht the Netherlands entitled ‘Hold Your Beliefs Lightly’ — a slogan that powerfully expresses the common thread that runs through his work.
Grayson Perry / Image: Chris McAndrew