Grayson Perry wins Erasmus Prize


Grayson Perry has been awarded the prestigious Erasmus Prize, dubbed the Dutch version of the Nobel Prize, for 2020, making him the first British visual artist to be selected since Henry Moore in 1968.


Graysonperry Erasmusprize 2020 Credits Chris Mcandrew

Grayson Perry, Erasmus Prize 2020 winner. Photo credit: Chris McAndrew


Awarded annually to a person or institution that has made “an exceptional contribution to the humanities, the social sciences or the arts,” the award comes with €150,000 prize money and titanium-plated ribbon adornments created by Dutch designer Bruno Ninaber van Eyben.


Something which Perry was particularly excited about. He said at the announcement in London: “I always love a medal. I’ll probably design an outfit to match.”


One of the best-known British artists of today, Perry – who also won the 2003 Turner Prize – is known for his varied work, which includes ceramics, tapestries and cast-iron sculptures, prints, dresses and even an entire house. Taking his art beyond the walls of the museum and art gallery, he has also written and presented documentaries about class, taste, masculinity and identity, and written accompanying books. 


From a crowdsourcing project during the Brexit debate in which he called on British people to submit images of beloved objects and subjects, he also created the memorable Matching Pair – two vases representing both leave and remain.


Perry’s ability to both charm and challenge the public was a deciding factor in him being awarded this year’s prize, which has the theme, "The power of the image in the digital era".


Erasmus confirmed in a statement: “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.”


To mark the presentation of the Erasmus Prize, the Foundation is organising a programme of events related to Grayson Perry and the theme. The formal presentation of the award will be in the Royal Palace of Amsterdam in November.