Grayson Perry and Critic Jonathan Jones Embroiled In a Heated War of Words

Perry's new works are emblazoned with Jones's criticisms.

Grayson Perry’s new vase citing Jonathan Jones. Courtesy of the artist.

Art critic and journalist Jonathan Jones, who has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind, has found himself once again at the center of controversy—this time with Turner Prize winning artist Grayson Perry.

Despite being a long-time critic of Perry’s work (in 2001, he suggested the artist’s vases be “smashed,” and their remains buried), Jones’s fierce critique is only now starting to turn heads, after Perry released a preview of new vases due to be shown next year at London’s Serpentine Gallery, one of which cheekily quotes the critic’s harsh assessment. (Perry is known primarily for his work in ceramics.)

The particular vase cites Jones’s words that assessed Perry’s works as “suburban popular culture.” In a particularly bold move, Perry misspelled the critic’s name “Johnathan,” leaving the question of whether or not the mistake was innocent or intentional.

As such, Perry’s use of Jones’s dismissal in his work provoked yet another scathing remark from the journalist, published yesterday in The Guardian, in what appears the beginning of a back-and-forth in which the two attempt to out-do one another.

In his wordy response to the artist’s new work, Jones wrote, “He really is not an artist at all … His incorporation of my criticism is exactly the kind of oh-so-knowing gesture that he offers instead of any true creative fire.”

He continued in a distinctly harsh vein: “Grayson Perry is what happens when art becomes a pseudo intellectual entertainment for a world that is too busy to look and too distracted to feel: an artist for people who can’t be bothered with art.” He concluded, “Now put that on a pot.” Ouch.


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