These two gents, making up British artist Duo Gilbert & George, are formidable in their observation of the world around us, making them one heck of a creative force! Over the five decades they have worked together, they have created some utterly unique and thought-provoking pieces based on daily life and society. They are world famous by now, and are indeed praised for paving the way for other contemporary artists to target controversial subjects within art.
Gilbert & George – The Great Exhibition
Having recently closed at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt on 5th September 2021, a round of up of this blockbuster of an exhibition can be found over on TA-DAH.TV, who have created a brilliant overview of this awesome show for their Art & Culture channel.
The Great Exhibition comprises of the artist’s own selected pieces of their oeuvre, providing a great overview of their extensive careers as an artistic duo from 1971 – 2019. Often symbolic and capable of evoking great emotion and shocking experiences for an ever-curious audience, you should prepare yourself for a bit of a rough ride.
Choosing to highlight subjects like sex, money, race, and religion in some potentially controversial perspectives, open-mindedness by the viewer is important when facing some of the crazy pieces they are so well-known for.
For those who didn’t make it to see the exhibition in person, a fantastic book has been released to accompany the show – a must for every art lover’s coffee table!
The History of Gilbert & George
First meeting together during their studies at Saint Martin’s School of Art, George Passmore and Gilbert Prousch have known each other since 1967. Claiming their bond was formed because George was one of the only people who could understand Gilbert’s spoken English, Gilbert has lost none of his charming accent today.
With his roots in northern Italy, Gilbert’s mother tongue is that of Ladin, but still has a heavily German slant, probably a leftover from his days when he studied in Austria. Both having studied art extensively in their youth, the duo became inseparable, thrown together not just by their love of art but also their love for one another, which they celebrated in 2008 when they married.
Often people spot them wandering the streets of East London, where they have been residents since 1968. Much of their work has been created in East London, focusing particularly on life in London’s East End.
Potentially most well-known for The Pictures – large scale photos and images using bold colours – they address a variety of subject matters, which work as great conversation starters and beg for huge discussions.
Choosing to include shocking imagery within these pieces, they actually received quite the backlash when a series of pictures were released which seemed to glamourise ‘rough types’ of London’s East End.
Despite this reaction, Gilbert & George continued to incorporate many subjects which may be deemed controversial for many a viewer. For example, depictions of sexual acts, nudity, and bodily fluids, receiving much media attention – yikes! Often appearing in their own work, the pair are regularly portrayed dressed (or indeed undressed) as they would be in everyday life, donning matching tweed suits.
White Cube Gallery
The White Cube Gallery offers space for the display of contemporary art across two branches within London. One in Mason’s Yard, Central London and the other in Bermondsey, South-East London. The iconic art gallery represents several living artists, including our favourite duo, Gilbert & George.
The East End of London has certainly re-invented itself to become a cultural and artistic area of the capital, with a vibrant scene not just in art, but fashion too. Gilbert and George have lived and worked from their home here for over 50 years and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else! Some of the other great artistic spaces you can find in the East End of London include:
- Whitechapel Gallery – shows pieces from modern artists such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.
- The Fashion and Textile Museum (Zandra Rhodes’ Fashion Museum) – showcasing modern fashion and textile design, a 3-min walk away from White Cube.
- Barbican Centre – Europe’s largest multi-arts centre. Offering a variety of activities, perfect for a weekend family day out.