Friday, April 13, 2007

Gilbert & George. Major Exhibition To Open at Haus der Kunst

Gilbert & George. Major Exhibition To Open at Haus der Kunst

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Gilbert & George, The Wall, 1986, 242 x 353 cm. © The Artist. Courtesy Jay Jopling / White Cube (London).

MUNICH, GERMANY.- Haus der Kunst will present Gilbert & George. Major Exhibition, on view June 11, 2007 to September 9, 2007. This exhibition presents Gilbert & George’s artistic body of work over the last forty years. "Gilbert & George. Major Exhibition" will not only present the photographic works, but also all the mediums with which the artists have worked, including documentations on their performances as "living sculptures," books, large format drawing installations from the early 70s, postcard sculptures and films. This allows the artist duo’s formal and conceptual development to be observed, from the extension of what the term sculpture signifies to the anticipation of photography as a decisive discourse in contemporary art. In addition to the works presented in Tate Modern, "There Were Two Young Men," a series of large charcoal drawings in six parts from 1971, will also be on view at Haus der Kunst.

Living Sculptures - In 1967 Gilbert and George met in a sculpture class at St. Martin’s School of Art, London. Since then they have been a couple in both professionally and privately. After finishing their studies at the art academy they had the feeling of being empty-handed – without a gallery or studio, yet with a remarkable idea: they simply declared themselves to be artworks and appeared as "living sculptures." In 1969 Gilbert & George formulated their personal laws of sculptors, which are still valid today and have become a kind of manifesto for all their art:
"1 Always be smartly dressed, well groomed relaxed friendly polite and in complete control
2 Make the world believe in you and to pay heavily for this privilege
3 Never worry assess discuss or criticize but remain quiet respectful and calm
4 The Lord chissels still, so don’t leave your bench for long."
(The laws of sculptors, 1969)

In 1969 Gilbert & George performed as "singing sculptures" for the first time with the song "Underneath the Arches." In this song two homeless people praise their lack of sleeping comfort ("The Ritz we never sigh for / The Carlton they can keep / There’s only one place that we know / And that is where we sleep"). Many more performances followed in different cities. In everyday life one was able to experience Gilbert & George as walking, eating, drinking and philosophizing sculptures. Their singing performances and systematic drinking binges in neatly tailored suits were somewhat irritating to the public – after all, the bourgeois disposition, which Gilbert & George cultivated in appearance, stood in contrast to the anti-bourgeois provocative content of their ludicrous performances.

Early Photographic Works and Development - The early photographic works show that Gilbert & George give the appearance of behaving with bourgeois decency. In this way they create an area of freedom in which they can break social taboos by undermining the system from within.

The early black and white montages posses a formal austerity and are sparingly colored by hand. Gilbert & George pose as melancholic gentlemen in almost claustrophobic spaces or on the streets of London’s East End. Through the occasional inclusion of graffiti such as "Are you angry or are you boring?" the images have a poetic quality, as well as a primitive strength that is not unlike that of Punk culture.

In the early 1980s bold colors were added. The use of such colors is reminiscent of Pop Art, which made conscious use of elements from kitsch, advertising and popular image design. From this point onwards subsequent series usually include one or more works on a monumental scale. From the beginning to the present these tableaux have been made up of rectangular fields that are surrounded by a black border. Rather than developing and enlarging their photographs in the dark room and coloring them by hand, Gilbert & George now scan their originals and rework them digitally.

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