Gilbert & George
Gilbert And George are a pair of collaborative artists described by themselves as 'living sculptures'.
Brief biography of artists
Gilbert and George are a pair of artists who work in collaboration. Gilbert Proesch was born in 1943 in Italy, whilst George Passmore was born in 1942 in Devon; both came from working-class families, and the duo met whilst studying at St Martins School of Art in 1967. They promptly began to exhibit and create art together, developing their own unique style, which they have continued to evolve during a career thus far spanning over fourty years.
The artists have always placed their own opinions and feelings at the heart of their work, leading to it sometimes being viewed as subversive or provactive, dealing with topics ranging from death and illness to race, religion and sexuality. They have described themselves as living sculptures, and claim not to distinguish between themselves and their art, which has been entirely based around the East End of London, where they have lived for several years.
The duo have long maintained they fell in love at first sight, and married in 2008. Gilbert and George have experimented with several artistic mediums, amongst them live performance art, film, and large-scale photographic art.
Guide for collectors
Whilst several of their artworks are installed in galleries or were created for a specific space, Gilbert and George’s photographic and painted art is considered highly collectable, and can reach high prices at auction; their piece ‘Four Plants’, created in 1980, was sold for $155,000 on 5th May 2005 from Phillips de Pury & Company, whilst the same auction house sold another of their works, an untitled ink on paper piece from 2001, for $4,000 on 14th March 2006.
Meanwhile, on 6th December 2005, Bloomsbury Auctions sold a Gilbert and George ink still-life for $700. Their work has been the subject of specialized exhibits, amongst them the Tate Modern’s ‘Gilbert & George Major Exhibition’, held from 15th February-7th May 2007.
Most expensive work
The most ever paid for a Gilbert and George piece is £636,500 on 28th February 2008 at a Sotheby’s auction of modern art. The piece in question was the early ‘Bad Thoughts No. 2’, a piece of photographic art showing the duo enjoying a drink at their home in London in 1975.
Most famous works
The work which first brought Gilbert and George to prominence was ‘The Singing Sculpture’, which debuted in 1969 as a live piece devised around the song ‘Underneath the Arches’, in which Gilbert and George wore suits and danced on a table, singing along, often for several hours. The piece was performed at art schools around London, and the song describes the pleasures to be had sleeping rough.
The Singing Sculpture was lauded for it’s accessability and references to the underclass. It was after realising that they could only reach small numbers of people at a time with their live performance methods that they decided to branch into more ‘solid’ forms of art which could target a larger demographic in a shorter space of time without the need for their literal physical presence. This led to the construction of their photographic artworks, in which they frequently feature.