Jeremy Deller was born in London and educated at St John's and St Clement's Primary School and Dulwich College before studying for his BA History of Art at Courtauld Institute of Art (University of London); he achieved his MA in Art History at the University of Sussex under David Alan Mellor.
Deller traces his broad interests in art and culture, in part, to childhood visits to museums like the Horniman Museum, in South London. After meeting Andy Warhol in 1986, Deller spent two weeks at The Factory in New York. He began making artworks in the early 1990s, often showing them outside of conventional galleries. In 1993, while his parents were on holiday (he was 27, still living at home), he secretly used the family home for an exhibition titled Open Bedroom.
In 1997, Deller embarked on Acid Brass, a musical collaboration with the Williams Fairey Brass Band from Stockport. The project was based on fusing the music of a traditional brass band with acid house and Detroit techno.
Much of Deller's work is collaborative. His work has a strong political aspect, in the subjects dealt with and also the devaluation of artistic ego through the involvement of other people in the creative process. Folk Archive is a tour of "people's art" and has been exhibited throughout the UK including at Barbican Centre and most recently (2013) at The Public, West Bromwich, outside of the contemporary art institution. Much of his work is ephemeral in nature and avoids commodification.
Deller staged The Battle of Orgreave in 2001, bringing together almost 1,000 people in a public re-enactment of a violent confrontation from the 1984 Miners’ Strike. The re-enactment was filmed by director Mike Figgis for Artangel Media and Channel 4. In 2004, for the opening of Manifesta 5, the roving European Biennial of Contemporary art, Deller organised a Social Parade through the streets of the city of Donostia-San Sebastian, drafting in cadres of local alternative societies and support groups to participate.
In 2006, he was involved in a touring exhibit of contemporary British folk art, in collaboration with Alan Kane. In late 2006, he instigated The Bat House Project, an architectural competition open to the public for a bat house on the outskirts of London.
The following year, 'The Posters Came from the Walls', a documentary co-directed with Nick Abrahams about Depeche Mode fans around the world was premiered at the London Film Festival, and followed by festival screenings around the world.
In 2009, Deller created Procession, a free and uniquely Mancunian parade through the centre of Manchester along Deansgate, a co-commission by Manchester International Festival and Cornerhouse. Procession worked with diverse groups of people drawn from the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester and took place on Sunday 5 July at 1400 hrs.
Commissioned in 2009 as part of The Three M Project (a group composed of the New Museum, New York; the Hammer Museum, LA; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, to exhibit and commission new works of art), Deller created It Is What It Is: Conversations About Iraq. The project was designed to foster public discussion by having guest experts engage museum visitors in a free-form, unscripted dialogue about issues concerning Iraq.
On 1 July 2016, his We're Here Because We're Here, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, took place in public spaces across the United Kingdom. On 29 June 2017, his event "What Is The City But The People?" opened the Manchester International Festival.
In 1995, Deller exhibited at EASTinternational, which was selected by Marian Goodman and Giuseppe Penone. He was invited to select EASTinternational in 2006 with Dirk Snauwaert. Monographic exhibitions include: Unconvention (1999, Centre for Visual Arts, Cardiff), After the Goldrush (2002, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco), Folk Archive with Alan Kane (2004, Centre Pompidou, Paris and Barbican Art Gallery, London), Jeremy Deller (2005, Kunstverein, Munich), From One Revolution to Another (2008, Palais de Tokyo, Paris), It Is What It Is: Conversations About Iraq (2009, Creative Time and New Museum, New York, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago), and Procession (2009, Cornerhouse, Manchester).
Joy in People, a retrospective of Deller's work, showed at the Hayward Gallery, London, between February and May 2012. Deller was selected to represent Great Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2013.
"Sacrilege", a replica of Stonehenge created for the 2012 Olympic Games was taken to Móstoles, Community of Madrid, in 2015.
Deller was the winner of the Turner Prize in 2004. Accepting the award, Deller said being nominated for the Turner prize had been "a not unenjoyable experience." He dedicated his award to "everyone who cycles, everyone who cycles in London, everyone who looks after wildlife, and the Quaker movement." His show at Tate Britain included documentation on Battle of Orgreave and an installation Memory Bucket (2003), a documentary about Crawford, Texas – the hometown of George W. Bush – and the siege in nearby Waco. In 2007, Deller was appointed a Trustee of the Tate Gallery.
On 1 October 2010, in an open letter to the British Government's culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, co-signed by 28 former Turner prize nominees, and 18 winners, Deller opposed any future cuts in public funding for the arts. In the letter the co-signatories described the arts in Britain as a "remarkable and fertile landscape of culture and creativity".
Also in 2010, he was awarded the Albert Medal of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA) for 'creating art that encourages public responses and creativity'.
Between 2012 and 2013, Deller served on the board of trustees of the Foundling Museum.
In August 2014, Deller was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.
During the 2017 general election campaign he created a poster bearing the words "Strong and stable my arse", referring to Theresa May's election slogan, that were publicly posted around London.