British artist Jeremy Deller (b. 1966) works with various media ranging from film and performance to installation, usually producing works conceptual in nature that often defy the traditional gallery and exhibition system. Born in London, Deller studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and the University of Sussex. As a key moment defining his decision to become an artist, Deller recalls meeting Andy Warhol as a young student and the consecutive period they spent together in New York. “Warhol could do whatever he wanted (as an artist). And that’s what I wanted to do.” (Deller).
Deller is most famous for working with non-traditional media that result in eclectic works difficult to be acquired, even exhibited: he engages on a broad level with both popular and traditional culture, with deliberately low-brow, anti-urban forays into folk art characterised by an entertaining lightness and sense of humour. For Acid Brass, 1996, the artist collaborated with a traditional brass band transcribing a number of acid house anthems. The strange juxtaposition reveals a surprising relationship between the old and new, suggesting the possibility of cultural interaction where none was assumed. The predecessor to Acid Brass, Butterfly Ball, 1995, saw Deller invite to an event at Peter Stringfellow’s nightclub ‘Stringfellows’ together with artist Alan Kane, where the party in combination with photographs taken of the club owner and two artists one afternoon in a park constituted the work of art itself. And yet, however humourous Deller’s work, it is characterised by an outstanding cultural sensitivity and thorough knowledge of both art history and contemporary society and politics. What might seem as a pun reveals itself as conscious decision to produce art that tries to move away from traditional forms, and which therewith reveal aspects of our human condition and contemporary environment that would remain hidden.
Deller has had numerous exhibitions and performances internationally, including EASTinterntaional, selected by Marian Goodman and Giuseppe Penone, New York, 1995; Unconvention, Centre for Visual Arts, Cardiff, 1999; After the Goldrush, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, 2002; Folk Archive with Alan Kane, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Barbican Art Gallery, London, 2004; Jeremy Deller, Kunstverein, Munich, 2005; From one Revolution to Another, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2008; It Is What It Is: Conversations About Iraq, Creative Time and new Museum, New York, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, all 2009; Processions, Cornerhouse, Manchester, 2009; and Joy In People, Hayward Gallery, London, 2012. Deller was selected to represent Great Britain at the Venice Biennale, 2013, and was awarded the Turner Prize in 2004. He served as Trustee of the Tate Gallery from 2007 until 2011.
Jeremy Deller lives and works in London.