Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gilbert and George

Gilbert and George form a famous pair of British contemporary artists, working and living together. They are famous for their Singing Sculpture and their Jack Freak Pictures.

Their duo is composed of Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore. Gilbert Proesch was born in 1943 in San Martin in Italy. He studied art in Austria before moving to the United Kingdom. George Passmore was born in 1943 in Plymouth. He studied art at Oxford. The two met in 1967 at St Martins School of Art where they studied sculpture. They began a relationship and are now married. They have a formal appearance which is very distinctive: they always wear suits when appearing publicly.

Even though they started with sculpture, they now produce more pictures art works. Their work is mainly inspired by life in London, more particularly in the East End, where they live. They are considered as Modernists, and their art is concerned with social subjects. Their motto is ‘Art for All’.

While they were still students, they created The Singing Sculpture, with which they revolutionized the concept of visual art by making themselves the art work: they coloured their heads and their hands with different powders and stood on a table to sing the Flanagan and Allen song “Underneath the arches”.

Another important work is called the Jack Freak Pictures, which is a collection of pictures combining the Union Jack theme with themselves in various disguises. The pictures include a lot of elements of the modern world, such as medals, flags, street-signs, or graffiti. It raises questions about current matters such as religion, identity, politics, economics, sexuality and death.

One of their most famous work of art is The Pictures. It consists in large scale photographs black and white at first and then hand-coloured in red and yellow. They often appeared on these pictures. Other features are flowers, young people, friends, Christian symbolism. However, their work has been criticized in the eighties because of its obscenity. Indeed, some pictures showed nudity, explicit sex or bodily fluids. In 2007, a book was published under the name of “The Complete Pictures”, collecting more than a thousand examples of their work.

After forty years of collaboration Gilbert and George have proved that they are an important element of contemporary art. Their work is recognized worldwide and they have won a lot of awards. In their mid sixties they still have much to show and their career is not over yet.

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