Gilbert and George

Italian/British (1943/42)

About the artist:

Gilbert Prousch, sometimes referred to as Gilbert Proesch (born 17 September 1943 in San Martin de Tor, Italy), and George Passmore (born 8 January 1942 in Plymouth, United Kingdom), are two artists who work together as the collaborative art duo Gilbert & George. They are known for their distinctive and highly formal appearance and manner in performance art, and also for their brightly coloured graphic-style photo-based artworks. Gilbert Prousch was born in San Martin de Tor in South Tyrol, northern Italy, his mother tongue being Ladin. He studied art at the Sëlva School of Art in Val Gardena and Hallein School of Art in Austria and the Akademie der Kunst, Munich, before moving to England. George Passmore was born in Plymouth in the United Kingdom, to a single mother in a poor household. He studied art at the Dartington College of Arts and the Oxford School of Art. The two first met on 25 September 1967 while studying sculpture at Saint Martin's School of Art. The two claim they came together because George was the only person who could understand Gilbert's rather poor English. In a 2002 interview with the Daily Telegraph, they said of their meeting: "it was love at first sight". They married in 2008. They are often seen together on walks through East London. Since 1968, Gilbert & George have been residents of Fournier Street, Spitalfields, East London. They live in an 18th-century house that has been restored to its original decor. Their entire body of work has been created in, and focused on, London's East End, which they see as a microcosm. According to George, "Nothing happens in the world that doesn't happen in the East End." Gilbert and George's approach to art has always been anti-elitist. Adopting the slogan ‘Art for All’, they aimed to be relevant beyond the narrow confines of the art world. Although they work in a variety of media, they have always referred to all of their works as "sculpture". Between 1970 and 1974 they made drawings (referred to as 'Charcoal on Paper Sculptures') and paintings to give a more tangible form to their identity as ‘living sculptures'. One of their first notable pieces was a photographic self-portrait wearing their trademark suits. George the Cunt and Gilbert the Shit was so titled in order to pre-empt criticism. They have received much acclaim with extensive solo exhibitions in the UK, USA, France, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Russia and China; numerous Honorary Doctorates from academic institutions including Plymouth University; and awards such as the Special International Award, the South Bank Award and the Lorenzo il Magnifico Award. In 1986 they won the Turner Prize which is widely considered to be the UK’s most prestigious contemporary art award. In 2005 they represented the UK at prestigious international art exhibition, the Venice Biennale. In 2017, the artists celebrated their 50th anniversary. Whilst still students, Gilbert & George made The Singing Sculpture, which was performed at National Jazz and Blues Festival in 1969 and at Nigel Greenwood Gallery in 1970. For this performance they covered their heads and hands in multi-coloured metalised powders, stood on a table, and sang along and moved to a recording of Flanagan and Allen's song "Underneath the Arches", sometimes for a day at a time. The suits they wore for this became a sort of uniform for them. They rarely appear in public without wearing them. It is also unusual for one of the pair to be seen without the other. The pair regard themselves as "living sculptures". They refuse to disassociate their art from their everyday lives, insisting that everything they do is art. They were listed as among the fifty best-dressed over 50s by The Guardian in March 2013. The pair are perhaps best known for their large scale photo works, known as The Pictures. The early work in this style is in black and white, later with hand-painted red and yellow touches. They proceeded to use a range of bolder colours, sometimes backlit, and overlaid with black grids. Their work has addressed a wide variety of subject matter including religion and patriotism. The two artists also often appear in their own "pictures". They have described their "pictures" as a sort of "visual love letter from us to the viewer". In 1986, Gilbert & George were criticised for a series of pictures seemingly glamourising 'rough types' of London's East End such as skinheads, while a picture of an Asian man bore the title "Paki". Some of their work has attracted media attention because of the inclusion of (potentially) shocking imagery, such as nudity, depictions of sexual acts, and bodily fluids (faeces, urine and semen). The titles of these works, such as Naked Shit Pictures (1994) and Sonofagod Pictures (2005), also contributed to the attention. 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 & 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. Jack Freak Pictures is, to date, the largest series of work created by Gilbert & George. According to Michael Bracewell "the Jack Freak Pictures are among the most iconic, philosophically astute and visually violent works that Gilbert & George have ever created." The Union Jack and Gilbert & George are the two dominant pictorial images – appearing contorted, abstracted, and sometimes complete. The entire series is set in the East End of London indicated by flags, maps, street signs, graffiti and other less obvious motifs such as brickwork and foliage that can be found there. After showing at White Cube’s Hoxton and Mason Yard galleries in 2009 the exhibition travelled to the Croatian Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb; The Kröller-Müller Museum, the Netherlands; Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Malaga, Spain; Arndt & Partner gallery, Berlin; the Baronian Francey Gallery, Brussels; and the Bozar Center for Fine Arts, Brussels.

Gilbert and George

Italian/British (1943/42)

(1 works)

About the artist:

Gilbert Prousch, sometimes referred to as Gilbert Proesch (born 17 September 1943 in San Martin de Tor, Italy), and George Passmore (born 8 January 1942 in Plymouth, United Kingdom), are two artists who work together as the collaborative art duo

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