Gilbert & George’s early art centered around Living Sculptures and evolved into video, drawing, and picture making, typically inserting themselves into their art. They take an anti-elitist stance to art...
Gilbert & George’s early art centered around Living Sculptures and evolved into video, drawing, and picture making, typically inserting themselves into their art. They take an anti-elitist stance to art and embrace the credo “Art for All”, as their art confront issues of social injustices, urban turmoil, politics, sex, religion, racism, patriotism and mortality. The East End of London – where they have been firmly rooted since 1967 and can be seen strolling the streets in their suits as they lead an ascetic lifestyle – serves as a filter and subject matter for much of their art.
Gilbert & George are most renowned for their large-scale artworks, collectively known as “The Pictures”. In the 1970s they began creating pictures of black and white images, soon arranging them into grid-like structures; by 1974 they incorporated red into their pictures; in the 1980s they introduced other bright colours into their repertoire and adopted a more stylized and graphic appearance in their pictures; and by the beginning of the 21st century fully embraced digital technology in their creativity.
Street Meet, 1982, demonstrates the riot of colour that erupted in Gilbert & George's pictures of the 1980s, and comes from a series of images depicting young men in staged, theatrical poses, casting them as ‘living sculptures’. George explained that these portraits were meant to counter negative stereotypes, particularly of an art world who “couldn’t handle works of modern art showing young people from neighbourhoods where they themselves didn’t want to live, where they wouldn’t even choose to go .” Gilbert professed, “When using models, we devoted all our power to making them totally beautiful.”
New York, Sonnabend Gallery, Gilbert & George, Modern Faith, 1983 London, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Gilbert & George, Works from a Private Collection, 6 October - 6 November 2020
Carter Ratcliff, Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures 1971-1985, London 1986, p. 200, illustrated in colour Rudi Fuchs (ed.), Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures 1971-2005, London 2007, vol. I, pp. 395, 441, illustrated in colour