Gilbert & George: “Two Men, One Artist”

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    Bloody Life, 1975

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    Black Church Face, 1980

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    Hellish, 1980

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    Finding God, 1982

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    Winter Flowers, 1982

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    Youth Faith, 1982

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    Fear, 1984

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    Here, 1987

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    One Way, 2001

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    Mass, 2005

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

When Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore staged one of their first moving sculptures at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 1969, they began a performance that has never ended. The duo met while studying at St. Martin’s School of Art and embarked on what is now a 45-year collaboration, an eccentric, independent perpetual ‘happening,’ exploring what art historian and curator Robert Rosenblum called, “the singularity of their duality.”

On Tuesday, April 3, 2012, dawning customary deadpan expressions, the duo will bring what the UK’s Independent calls “their seamless double-act, walking in step and talking in antiphon, all clothes, habits and opinions synchronised, [sic] all sentences prefixed by a regal ‘we’,” to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for a conversation with novelist and cultural historian Michael Bracewell.

Together known as one Gilbert & George, they’ve produced an enormous body of visceral, often provocative photography-based work—art independent of any school or movement, art of everyday modern urban life, as they deem with their slogan, “Art for All.” Contrary to the work of many contemporary blockbuster artists, their aim is “to speak across the barriers of knowledge directly to the people about their life and not about the knowledge of art.”

George and Gilbert with Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures, 1971 – 2005

They manipulate images of architecture, lurid graffiti, shop windows and most often themselves on exceptionally powerful computers in their home studio and print on massive, mural-sized panels, 200 of which made up their monumental 2007 retrospective occupying the entire forth floor at Tate Modern, the largest exhibition by a living artist there yet. In collaboration with Aperture Foundation, Tate Publishing also released a unique, two-volume retrospective monograph joined in one carrying case designed and produced by the artists, Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures, 1971–2005.

In their time together, Gilbert & George have taken tens of thousands of photographs virtually all within walking distance of their East London flat for their art of everyday life. As they often claim, “Nothing happens in the world that doesn’t happen in the East End.” With subject matter covering what the Guardian coupled as “nudity,  bondage, bad language and turds,” and series titles such as Cunt Scum, Naked Shit, New Horny Pictures and Drunk with God, their work has attracted alternatively the outrage and adoration of the media.

Some question it as pure shock value, though Gilbert & George refute this claim, suggesting to the Independent, “We want to un-shock people, and bringing these subjects into the open, allowing them to live and breathe, should un-shock.”

In a four-part video tour of their studio, they say furthermore:

Each of our pictures is a kind of visual love letter from us to the viewer and it is the space between the picture and the viewer that makes art, the thoughts and feelings that go through the person when examining the picture.

Their aim is to confront the viewer with some kind of morality, ambiguous or otherwise, but never to impose. Rather, they explore it together with the viewer.

“We are not sending them to heaven or hell,” says Gilbert in another video interview. “We are sending them,” laughs George, “to the bar instead.”

 

Second Annual Robert Rosenblum Lecture:
Gilbert & George in Conversation with Michael Bracewell
Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 6:30 PM
SOLD OUT

Standby tickets may be available if space allows. Please call the Box Office at (212) 423-3587 for more information. $10, $7 members, free for students with a valid ID.

Solomon T. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10128