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The Vanity of Small Differences by Grayson Perry

The Vanity of Small Differences by Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry, The Adoration of the Cage Fighters, 2012

In The Vanity of Small Differences Grayson Perry explores his fascination with taste and the visual story it tells of our interior lives in a series of six tapestries and three programmes, All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry, which was broadcast in June 2012 on Channel 4.  The artist goes on a safari amongst the taste tribes of Britain, to gather inspiration for his artworks, literally weaving the characters he meets into a narrative partly inspired by Hogarth's A Rake's Progress.
 
Perry has always worked with traditional media; ceramics, cast iron, bronze, printmaking and tapestry.  He is interested in how each historic category of object accrues over time intellectual and emotional baggage. Tapestry is the art form of grand houses: depicting classical myths, historical and religious scenes and epic battles. In this series of works Perry plays with idea of using this ancient allegorical art to elevate the commonplace dramas of modern British life.
 
The Vanity of Small Differences tells the story of the rise and demise of Tim Rakewell and is composed of characters, incidents and objects Perry encountered on journeys through Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells and The Cotswolds. Hogarth has long been an influence on Perry's works, his Englishness, his robust humour and his depiction of, in his own words, 'modern moral subjects'. The secondary influence comes from Perry's favourite form of art, early Renaissance painting.
 
Each of the six images, to a greater or lesser extent, pays homage to a religious work.  Including Masaccio's Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Matthias Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece, Rogier Van de Weyden's Lamentation and three different paintings ofThe Annunciation by Carlo Crivelli,  Grünewald and Robert Campin.  The images also reference the pictorial display of wealth and status in The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyck and Mr & Mrs Andrews by Thomas Gainsborough.  Woven into each tapestry are snatches of text, each one in the voice of a participant in the scene illustrated. Each image also features a small dog, reminiscent of Hogarth's beloved pug, Trump.