Gilbert and George 1943, 1942 —
"We don't have anything to say except with our pictures." - Gilbert
"We don't want to think. It's exhausting enough without that." - George
Gilbert and George are pioneers
in using the medium of photography to create ‘fine art'.
For almost four decades, Gilbert and George have occupied a unique position among contemporary artists and have built up a vast body of art that has earned them international acclaim. These two ultra-modern artists work together as a duo. Gilbert Proesch (b. 1943) and George Passmore (b.1942) are seen in much of their art, deceptively appearing quite formal. They occupy so unique a position among contemporary artists that they have become a strong influence on the YBA [Young British Artists].
Gilbert Prousch, from Italy, studied art in Austria at the Wolkenstein School of Art and the Hallein School of Art and in Munich. Then he moved to England. George Passmore, from Plymouth, England, studied at Dartington Hall College of Art and the Oxford School of Art, which was at Oxford College as a part of the College of Technology that became Oxford Brookes University.
The two first met on 25 September 1967 while studying sculpture at St Martins School of Art, now Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. They refuse to disassociate their art from their everyday lives (together), insisting that everything they do is art. The pair regard themselves as "living sculptures". They wore matching business suits, which has become signature dress for them, and it is very unusual for one of them to be seen in public without the other. They consider themselves 'living sculpture' and regard everything they do as 'art'. Gilbert & George live together in East London on Fournier Street, and have been in the habit of eating each night at the same Kurdish restaurant, with George usually walking there and Gilbert often taking a cab. In the 1990s, they owned a working men's cafe near their home in Spitalfields, and sometimes worked the counter. As artists they are very prolific, creating to date "one work every 12 days for nearly 35 years."
Moving to the working-class neighborhood of Spitalfields in London, Gilbert and George revolted against art's elitism, naming their house "Art for All" and declaring themselves "living sculptures." Although their early work centered around Performance, the artists soon turned to video, photography, and drawing. As early as 1969, the artists were given an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and by 1972-73 were frequently showing with prestigious galleries such as the Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London; Sonnabend Gallery, New York; and Konrad Fischer Galerie, Düsseldorf. Their use of black-and-white photographic assemblages first surfaced in 1971 and by the late 1970s had developed into gridlike photo combinations. The duo was invited to participate in Documenta 5, 6, and 7 in Kassel in 1972, 1977, and 1982. In 1980, the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, organized a mid-career retrospective of the artists' work, which traveled to the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Kunsthalle Bern; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London.
In the first years of the 1980s, Gilbert and George added a range of bright colors to their photographs, emphasizing their slick, stylized, and cartoonlike appearance. The content of the work of this period centered around urban life and the hope and fear associated with modern society. In 1986, Gilbert and George were awarded the Turner Prize, and in 1987 had a major exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London. In 1989, Gilbert and George exhibited twenty-five large pieces dealing with illness and destruction at Anthony d'Offay Gallery for an AIDS charity organization. The following year, the artists created The Cosmological Pictures, which toured ten different European museums from 1991 to 1993. Gilbert and George also exhibited in Moscow in 1990. In 1992, their largest production ever, New Democratic Pictures, was exhibited at Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark. This was followed by a solo exhibition at the National Art Gallery, Beijing, and the Art Museum, Shanghai, in 1993. In 1994, the artists were given an exhibition at the Museo d'Arte Moderna, Lugano, Switzerland. They have since been the subject of major traveling retrospectives organized by Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Bologna (1996), Kunstmuseum Bonn (1999), and Tate Modern in London (2007), which traveled to the Brooklyn Museum (2008). They also represented England in the 2005 Venice Biennale. Gilbert and George live in London.
They are best known for their large scale pictures, the earliest comprised of cheap banal postcards, as is "Cathedral World-1986". Later works are highly colored, sometimes backlit and overlaid with black grids where Gilbert and George themselves are frequently features in these works, along with flowers and youths, their friends, and echoes of Christian symbolism.
Some of their pictures have attracted media attention through the inclusion of shocking imagery, including nudity, depictions of sexual acts, and bodily fluids, such as feces, urine and semen. The salacious titling of their pictures reinforces their shock value.
A book, The Complete Pictures, 1971-2005, published in 2007 by Tate Modern, includes over a thousand examples of their art.
In May 2007, Gilbert and George were the subject of the BBC documentary Imagine, presented by Alan Yentob. At the end of the programme a picture entitled 'Planed' was made available as a free file download from the BBC and The Guardian websites for 48 hours. People who downloaded the files could then print and assemble the piece, and thus own an original Gilbert and George picture for free.
Gilbert and George have won the most prestigious and coveted awards including the Turner Prize in 1986, South Bank Award 2007, Lorenzo il Magnifico Award(Florence) 2007, Special International Award(LA) 1989, Regione lazio Award(Torino) 1981. They have represented the UK at the 2005 Venice Biennale.
Works by the artists are in all your major international museums including including: The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; Art Institute of Chicago; The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; The Tate Gallery, London; Tate Modern, London; The Centre Georg Pompidou, Paris; Migros Museum, Zurich; Musée d´Art Contemporain, Bordeaux; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; SMAK Gent; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; National Gallery of Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Tasmanian Museum; Art Gallery and Art Gallery of Western Australia; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Groninger Museum, Groningen; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg; and the Musée d´Art Contemporain, Bordeaux;
An important source for modern and contemporary American & European Art in East Hampton, New York & worldwide, Janet Lehr Fine Arts' spectacular wide-ranging inventory consists of unique paintings, drawings, large & small scale sculpture, monotypes, prints and photographs by Ansel Adams, Milton Avery, Richard Avedon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, Fernando Botero, Cartier-Bresson, Marc Chagall, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Willem De Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, David Hockney, Winslow Homer, Wolf Kahn, Jeff Koons, Fernand Leger, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Thomas Moran, Henry Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Cindy Sherman, Charles Sheeler, Bert Stern, Alfred Stieglitz, Andy Warhol, Carleton E Watkins, Tom Wesselmann and Andrew Wyeth.
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