Artist
Gilbert and George
British artist duo

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Gilbert and George
British artist duo
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ebrowne's picture

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Gilbert & George are perhaps the best dressed duo in the entirety of the art world. They are also amongst the most shocking.

Before Gilbert and George became Gilbert & George, they were just two kids growing up in their perspective parts of Europe in low-income households. Both of them “remember living without heat, bathroom or hot water.” Gilbert Prousch was born in the Dolomites in northeastern Italy. He was of a shoemaking family and went on to study art in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. George was born in Plymouth, a teeny town in Devon, England. He dropped out of regular school and studied art at Dartington Hall School by the time he was fifteen years old. The pair met at St. Martin’s in 1967, and it was, as they have said themselves, “love at first sight.” They also may have been brought together by the fact that George was the only one who could understand Gilbert’s English, as he had a heavy Italian accent. But fate was definitely working in their favor. The year they met is the same year that the United Kingdom passed a law saying that homosexuality was no longer a crime. Cute? Now, more than fifty years later, the pair live and work in East London, eating at the same restaurant (they don’t have a kitchen in their house), and dressing in almost identical suits. “As they themselves have often commented, such a routine based, ascetic lifestyle is what keeps their work pure, unpolluted.” If you didn’t know any better the two could be twins. Good thing we know better. In 2008 the couple married, but not because they believe in the institution of marriage, which they think is stupid. They did it for practical reasons, quite unlike most of their art.

Gilbert & George’s art is themselves. They consider themselves ‘living sculptures’ and don’t separate their lives from their art. The art that they make outside of their bodies is often challenging for the faint of heart. Their use of bodily excrements and fluids is designed with the ultimate goal of shocking and horrifying people. And they are very good at it. Their art has gotten the police called and protests started. It’s great now, but it wasn’t always easy for the two to be artists. “It was a herculean task to convince gallery owners to give them a show when all they had to present was a 'life box' filled with memorabilia and themselves as sculptures.” But persistence won and Gilbert & George became famous. They were also the pair that made it okay for the Young British Artists to be a thing. No one would have taken Sarah Lucas, Tracey Emin, or Damien Hirst seriously without Gilbert & George. 

Sources

Sources

  1. Groom, Vitoria Hadba. "Gilbert & George Overview And Analysis." The Art Story. N.p., 2018. Web. 10 Sept. 2018.
  2. Johnson, Ken. "Review: Gilbert & George In The Early Days, Sending Up A Religion Called Art." Nytimes.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 10 Sept. 2018.
  3. Small, Zachary. "The Quiet Radicalism And Dry Humor Of Early Gilbert & George." Hyperallergic. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 Sept. 2018.
  4. Yuan, Jada. "63 Minutes With Gilbert & George." Nymag.com. N.p., 2012. Web. 10 Sept. 2018.