Michael Petry, creates gorgeous, witty and subversive installations from traditional craft materials such as leather, glass, fabrics and pearls. Often heroic in scale, his installations are usually impermanent—relics, souvenirs and photographic documentation are their only remnants. Petry is interested in combining coded references from gay men’s subculture, transfiguring images sometimes taken from pornography with elevated spiritual and mythological themes, reminding the beholder of the paradox that the most unutterable beauty lays within our base physicality.
Libation to Apollo is a sun-like gold-plated ceramic vessel, which Petry had made in Jindezhen, the ancient capital of Chinese porcelain. Filled with white wine, in this case from the Veneto region, it serves as a libation to Apollo, god of light. Historically, libations have been made to the gods throughout the Mediterranean and into Mesopotamia. Revisiting this idea in a contemporary context, Petry references rituals of offering which continue across cultures today.
Michael Petry received a Bachelor of Arts from Rice University, Houston, a master’s degree from London Metropolitan University, and a doctorate degree from Middlesex University London. He is an artist, writer and curator.
His works are included in prominent public collections throughout the world including the British Museum, London; the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; the Kunst— und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublick Deutschland, Bonn; and the Bellerive Museum, Zurich.
Petry has authored several books, the most recent of which, The Art of Not Making: The New Artist/Artisan Relationship, was published by Thames & Hudson in 2012. From 2010 to 2011, Petry was the first artist-in-residence at Sir John Soane’s Museum London, exhibiting two bodies of work, published in Smoke & Mirrors in 2011. In 2012, his work was featured in a solo show, The Touch of the Oracle, at the Palm Springs Art Museum, which was accompanied by a ten-year career review book distributed by Thames & Hudson.
Michael Petry is director and curator of the project space for the Museum of Contemporary Art, London, and guest curator for Futurecity. He co-founded the Museum of Installation, and was guest curator at the Kunsthøgskolen, Oslo, and research fellow at the University of Wolverhampton and was curator of the Royal Academy of Arts Schools Gallery. Petry is a Fellow of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and a Brother of the Art Workers’ Guild.
Born in El Paso, Texas, 1960 | Lives and works in London
Libation to Apollo, 2014, installation, 24k-gold plated porcelain, white wine, 38.4 inches/97.5 cm diameter