Grayson Perry (b. 1960)
Grayson Perry (b. 1960)
Grayson Perry (b. 1960)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more

The Adoration of the Cage Fighters (from The Vanity of Small Differences)

The Adoration of the Cage Fighters (from The Vanity of Small Differences)
wool, cotton, acrylic, polyester and silk tapestry
78 3/4 x 157 1/2in. (200 x 400cm.)
Executed in 2012, this work is number six from an edition of six plus two artist's proofs
Victoria Miro, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2012.
J. Klein, Grayson Perry, London 2009, p. 276 (detail of another from the edition illustrated in colour on the front cover; illustrated in colour, p. 277).
C. Higgins, 'Grayson Perry gives The Vanity of Small Differences to the nation' in The Guardian, 30 November 2012.
G. Perry, The Vanity of Small Differences, London 2013, p. 66 (illustrated in colour, p. 67).
British Council, The Vanity of Small Differences, Grayson Perry, London 2015, pp. 21 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 15).
London, Victoria Miro, Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences, 2012 (another from the edition exhibited).
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Summer Exhibition, 2013 (another from the edition exhibited).
Sunderland, Sunderland Museum, Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences, 2013-2017 (another from the edition exhibited). This exhibition later travelled to Manchester, Manchester Art Gallery; Birmingham, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery; Leeds, Temple Newsam House; Istanbul, Pera Museum; Ankara, Cer Modern; Bath, Victoria Art Gallery; Coventry, Herbert Art Gallery; Worcester, Croome; Canterbury, The Beaney; Kyiv, Izolyatsia Platform for Cultural Initiatives; Novi Sad, Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina; Pristina, National Gallery; Sarajevo, Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Banja Luka, Museum of Contemporary Art of Republic of Srpska and Tirana, National Gallery.
Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Grayson Perry: My Pretty Little Art Career, 2015-2016, pp. 182 and 238 (another from the edition exhibited; illustrated in colour, p. 182; detail illustrated in colour, pp. 4 and 238; installation view at Victoria Miro illustrated in colour, p. 188).
Maastricht, Bonnefanten, Grayson Perry - Hold your beliefs lightly, 2016. This exhibition later travelled to Aarhus, ARoS Kunstmuseum.
Newlyn, Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences, 2020-2022 (another from the edition exhibited). This exhibition later travelled to Norwich, East Gallery, Norwich University of the Arts; Rochdale, Touchstones; Hereford, Hereford Museum and Gallery; Kilmarnock, Dick Institute and Sunderland, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot will be removed to our storage facility at Momart. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Momart. All collections from Momart will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends.
Further details
Another work from the edition is in the permanent collection of the Arts Council Collection, London.

Brought to you by

Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Senior Specialist, Head of Department

Lot Essay

A landmark work in Grayson Perry’s oeuvre, The Adoration of the Cage Fighters (2012) is the first in a series of six monumental tapestries that the artist created under the collective title The Vanity of Small Differences. An extraordinary meditation on social mobility in twenty-first-century Britain, these works represent a modern-day response to William Hogarth’s eighteenth-century satirical masterpiece The Rake’s Progress. Hogarth’s eight paintings and related etchings tell the story of Tom Rakewell, a wealthy heir who squanders his inheritance on riotous living. Perry’s re-imagining reverses this narrative, following the fictional ‘Tim Rakewell’ on a journey from his working-class roots—depicted in the present work—to fame and fortune. The characters and scenes that populate the series were directly inspired by the artist’s 2012 Channel 4 documentary All in the Best Possible Taste, which saw him discuss themes of taste and class with diverse social groups across the UK. Works from the edition, including the present, have been widely exhibited over the past decade, with a complete set of all six held in the Arts Council Collection, London.

Set in Tim's great-grandmother's front room, the present work depicts his early childhood. A monologue from his mother flows in a pink band throughout the entire tapestry, outlining her life, her family background and her circumstances. Perry describes the work's structure. ‘The infant Tim reaches for his mother’s smartphone’, he explains, ‘his rival for her attention. She is dressed up, ready for a night out with her four friends, who have perhaps already “been on the pre-lash”. Two “Mixed Martial Arts” enthusiasts present icons of tribal identity to the infant: a Sunderland A.F.C. football shirt and a miner’s lamp. In the manner of early Christian painting, Tim appears a second time in the work: on the stairs, as a four-year-old, facing another evening alone in front of a screen. Although this series of images developed very organically, with little consistent method, the religious reference was here from the start. I hear the echo of paintings such as Andrea Mantegna’s The Adoration of the Shepherds (c. 1450).’

Riffing on the grand tapestries that Perry observed in some of Britain’s finest country houses, The Vanity of Small Differences extends the social and cultural enquiries that had long been central to his celebrated ceramic practice. The series’ title is a pun on Sigmund Freud’s concept of ‘the narcissism of small differences’: the notion that the people we are most keen to distinguish ourselves from are in fact those with whom we share the most in common. The interviews that Perry conducted during the making of his documentary served to confirm this idea, highlighting the ways in which we are all ultimately more connected than we perhaps like to think. Indeed, for all Tim Rakewell’s societal ‘progress’, the final tapestry in the cycle concludes with a scene of him lying dead after a car crash. A smartphone, like the one he had once tried to grasp from his mother’s hands, is smashed on the ground beside him. For Perry—who, much like Tim Rakewell, transcended his working-class origins to achieve international celebrity status—the work seems to offer a poignant warning: a reminder that, whatever dizzying heights we may achieve, none of us are beyond life’s great equalising forces.

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