Grayson Perry Crafts Giant Ceramic Penis to Represent London’s Bankers

The face of UK’s chancellor George Osborne features prominently on it, too.

Grayson Perry. Photo: Courtesy Channel 4.
Grayson Perry. Photo: Courtesy Channel 4.
Grayson Perry’s Object in Foreground (2016). Photo: Courtesy Channel 4.

Grayson Perry’s Object in Foreground (2016). Photo: ©Grayson Perry and Victoria Miro Gallery, London.

The British artist and cross-dressing celebrity Grayson Perry is the star of a TV series on Channel 4 called All Man, in which he explores the construction of identities in “ultra-male worlds,” and produces two new artworks per episode in response.

Previous episodes haven seen him plunging into the (ostensibly) rougher worlds of cage fighting and crime, but for this week’s finale, broadcast last night, he tackled the financial sector in London’s City, and the resulting artwork is… a huge penis.

Titled Object in Foreground, the 68-centimeter-tall glazed ceramic phallus is adorned with bank notes, images of city workers, and the face of the politician George Osborne, UK’s chancellor of the exchequer.

Grayson Perry. Photo: Courtesy Channel 4.

Grayson Perry. Photo: Courtesy Channel 4.

“There’s no disputing what it is. It’s a big cock,” Perry says at one point in the program.

“I was thinking of an object that could hold its own amongst all the marble (of the City lobbies) but drew attention to the unquestioned maleness of its world,” Perry said of the work. “Men dominate the financial center especially at the top so I wanted to make something that said it’s there all the time, it’s the center of gravity that’s pulling us all in.”

Indeed, at London’s financial district—also known as “the City”—a whopping 84 percent of senior bankers are men, as Perry points out in the program.

Perry’s second work—a large-scale woodcut print titled Animal Spirit inspired by the work of Albrecht Dürer—depicts a huge horned bear walking across a dystopian urban landscape, with the words “objective”, “reasonable,” and “serious” emblazoned in its body.

“The masculinity you see in the City is cloaked long ago under gentlemanliness and rationality and ‘good business practice.’ The beast still lurks but he’s very well-behaved,” Perry said.

Grayson Perry’s second artwork made in response to London’s City, the large scale print Animal Spirit (2016). Photo: Courtesy Channel 4.

Grayson Perry’s second artwork made in response to London’s City, the large scale print Animal Spirit (2016). Photo: ©Grayson Perry and Victoria Miro Gallery, London.

Towards the end of the program, Perry showed the resulting artworks to the City workers he had interviewed as part of his research. Most of them weren’t thrilled, with one of them even calling the work “depressing” and accusing the artist of being prejudiced.

Perry, however, was nonplussed.

UK viewers can watch the program here.


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