fbpx Gilbert & George | CIRCA

Gilbert & George have created art together since 1967, when they met at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London and decided that their art should be understood as emerging from a single source. Theirs would be, in their words, ‘art for all’, in contrast to what they saw as the overly cerebral and elitist Minimalist and Conceptual work that was dominant at the time. Referring to their time there, Gilbert & George said, ‘the bad things in art then were emotion, colour, sentiment, feeling, sexuality – all those were taboo’. These have become some of the themes they choose to examine in their own art.

In practical terms, this has resulted in a rich body of art defined by its focus on the world we live in from the perspective of the windows of the artists’ home in the multi-layered, diverse culture of Spitalfields, as well as their attitudes to the human being, sex, religion, race, money and death. As Gilbert & George once said, ‘There is nothing that happens in the world that doesn’t happen in the East End first.’ They are often seen in public around the local area, always together and dressed in their distinctive formal suits.

Gilbert & George’s art encompasses charcoal on paper, sculpture and films, but their best-known works are large-scale, highly coloured pictures. This format developed from similar early pictures, which were mostly executed in black and white. With brief or single-word titles, usually included in bold capital letters within the picture, these images are direct and highly graphic explorations of life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Their art contains all the world, ranging from high to low culture, and their lexicon of sometimes shocking imagery includes penises, vomit, faeces, beards, burqas, flags, street signs, laughing gas canisters and crucifixes.

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