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Monday, 9 January 2017

Painting of the Month (67) Dec 2017: Gilbert & George

Forward, Gilbert & George 2008, Stained Glass
Gilbert and George are an oddity in the art world. They are Conservative, monarchists and anti-socialists. They do everything together, are never seen apart (they are a couple) and have been together since art school days. Gilbert Prousch was born in Italy in 1943 and George Passmore in England in 1942. They are often seen walking along together in the trendy parts of London's East End. They declined to be photographed with me when I ran into them a couple of years ago (I don't blame them really). They are strongly anti-elitist and have questioned why so many artists are left-wing socialists whom, they claim, tend to be all the same. Surely, they ask, artists should want to be different and individual? Their trade mark is that they are very often featured in their own work which they describe as 'scuptures'.
Family Tree, Gilbert & George 1994, Photos pasted onto board
They are irreverent, witty, obscenely rude, playful and fun. They are always immaculately dressed and are renowned for their highly-formal appearance, always in the same matching suits. I have made a collage of some of their photos below.
I'm listening to the original version of  Lets Stick Together by Wilbert Harrison 


John said...

Hi Bazza!
For some reason my original comment was considered a 'bad request', whatever that means?! Anyway, I will try again. Not really my cup of tea, these two. I have seen them interviewed and they come across as incredibly rude and arrogant, two features that I am not a big fan of. People are free to have views, opinions and thoughts of their own, but to be deliberately rude in order to upset people, I find very unattractive.

bazza said...

Hi John. I think they just believe that they are very naughty boys!
The 'bad request' has started appearing recently when you don't tick the 'I'm not a robot box'.
You're not a robot are you? ;-)

Hels said...

They have questioned why so many artists are look-alike left-wing socialists, rather than different and individual. But most people would see artists, writers, designers, musicians etc are the most creative and honest people in the community. Actors and writers stood up against the tragedies of the Vietnam War, even when it endangered their lives. Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes Speech against Thump leaves her vulnerable to loss of career.. or worse.

klahanie said...

Hey Bazza,

I do not know of those two chaps. However, the stained glass, is just the sort of stuff I'd like to see in a church, that's if I ever went into a church.

I am not a robot but more akin to a paranoid android.

As you were, old chap.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - I've heard of them, but because they're fairly unconventional I've not explored further .. that's why I enjoy blogging - I learn at a different pace and about people I've passed by so to speak. They are an extraordinary couple ... so I'm delighted to have this brief insight - thanks ... cheers Hilary

I never tick that box ... it seems to be irrelevant - but I will now see what the dreaded robot does ... ?!

bazza said...

Hels: Very few of their ideas stand up to close examination really. I would be amazed if Meryl Streep, "Hollywood's most over-rated actress" according to Trump, lost her career. (Mel Gibson did seem to suffer from a much worse outburst though. And, of course, the innocent-ish Fatty Arbuckle)

Gary: I don't think any church would be willing to commission a stained glass window from those two! I'm happy to learn that you are not a robot. Neither am I... Neither am I... Neither am I...Neither am I.......

Hilary: I think we both Blog for the same reason. I think once you have ticked a site's box a few times you no longer need to!
Gilbert & George are very rude but lots of fun.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

This is definitely a different type of art than you usually post. I think of myself as open-minded but your description of their personalities turned me off. Good for you, though, for introducing them to us. We shouldn't only look at what we like but explore what is outside our boundaries of thought.

bazza said...

Arleen: Exactly! Many artists, scientists, politicians etc who have been considered 'great men and women' throughout history have been unpleasant privately; although to be fair not women so much!

David said...

Hi bazza,
Interesting debate going on a about these two reprobates, so thought I'd join in.
As you say, great men or women have often been unpleasant privately while leading outstanding public lives. One example that comes to mind for me is Philip Larkin, who had a secret stash of "dirty old man" porn and was almost definitely some kind of closet xenophobe and racist. But I suppose one would have to separate the art from the man.
As for their contention that most artists fit into some kind of conformist left-wing group, I suppose they may have a point. I think it's rare to find a true right-wing artist, although one that comes to mind in my own particular loved genre, film, is Sam Peckinpah, and also perhaps Tom Wolfe in literature. I believe Satre was once asked if there were any such thing as a right-wing work of art, to which he said that there was not, because those on the right did not understand how the world worked. But then again, he was a leftist himself, often accused of ignoring the horrors of Stalinism.
So, no easy answers really, bazza. All I know is is that I don't like their work, nor their politics, so there!
Hope you had a good Christmas and also that 2017 is good to you,
Best Regards,

bazza said...

Hi David. Happy 2017 to you too! Reprobates is the perfect word for Gilbert & George; they would describe them selves in much stronger language. Thank you for this interesting comment. I wasn't aware of Peckinpah's politics but Tom Wolfe was certainly no leftist. I think I see Larkin as 'of his time' but, having said that, it feels like a cop-out!
I do wish you would post more about cinema because it's a great strength of yours.

All Consuming said...

Yes, can the artist(s) views and unpleasantness be separated from the art? I think that depends on the level of both so far as the individual goes; if you loved the art enough, you might be inclined to overlook certain elements of the artist, but then again that just comes down to what moral and/or politica stance one has (turned into the Queen at the end there). They're different, and unusual, and I like seeing what they produce, but really can't stand either of them hahahahaha.

bazza said...

AC: I think the personality and the work HAS to be separated because otherwise we'd have no art! Thank for commenting Your Majesty!

Bohemian said...

I found the Art to be whimsical, different and I Liked it... perhaps I wouldn't like them if they are intentionally rude... but then again, until I actually met them I wouldn't know. I've liked some unlovely and hard to get along with types if we happened to hit it off regardless of their rep not being very positive. In fact a lot of very Artistic and Creative people can be temperamental so I wouldn't necessarily hold that against them. Glad you introduced me to their Art Style, I'm going to look up more of their body of Work now. Greetings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

bazza said...

Hi Bohemian. Thanks for visiting and commenting! I don't think I like then very much either but I think I can recognise their importance to the London art scene over many years. They do not claim to be special but they are a phenomenon. I took a look at your Blog. I don't know how you find the time to create such long posts!