Gilbert & George have made art together since the 1970s to create startling and challenging images and pictures that confront the viewers with critical issues of our times. From the beginning, they wanted to communicate beyond the narrow confines of the art world, adopting the slogan “Art For All.” Almost all of the images they use are gathered within walking distance of their home in London’s East End. Yet, their pictures capture a broad human experience, encompassing an astonishing range of emotions and themes, from rural idylls to gritty images of a decaying city; from fantastical brightly colored panoramas to raw examinations of humanity stripped bare; from sex advertisements to religious fundamentalism.
Meeting at St. Martins School of Art in London, Gilbert & George have been creative partners ever since. They established their reputation with The Singing Sculpture, during which the two artists stood together on a table, dancing and singing, painted with a patina to mimic live sculptures. The artists began as draftsmen, and quickly expanded their medium. Their early development was rapid, so that by 1974, they began to make massive pictures. In the 1980s, their pictures became bigger, brighter, and bolder, into the graphically dynamic art for which they have become identified.
Gilbert & George contains approximately forty-five large-scale pictures and a selection of archival materials, culled from the massive retrospective organized by Tate Modern that spans the artists’ forty-year career. The Milwaukee Art Museum, San Francisco’s de Young Museum, and New York’s Brooklyn Museum are the only three American venues hosting the exhibition.