For almost four decades Gilbert & George have been making some of the most remarkable and influential art of our times. The pictures are at the core of their practice and contain powerful messages that speak of the moment of their creation with rarely matched acuity. This becomes even more pronounced with the benefit of hindsight, as the furor subsides and the pictures reveal depths of emotion: tenderness, violence, shame, pleasure, and fear. The striking originality of their images is another great achievement: pictures by Gilbert & George bear little resemblance to anything from the modern world but pictures by Gilbert & George. The artists are instantly recognizable, always formal but open and generous. Often described as the quintessential London artists, Gilbert & George take their subject matter from their immediate environment, the liminal border between the City (the financial and commercial district of London) and the East End. The fusions and tensions of the area, between local and global, privilege and exclusion, migrant populations and cultural traditions, are at the heart of their art. Gilbert & George represent the condition, or contradiction, of the metropolis: it is precisely these local textures that give their work such an international quality.
Director, Tate Modern
Excerpt adapted from the Foreword to the exhibition catalogue Gilbert & George. Reprinted with permission.
A Tate Modern, London, exhibition in association with the Milwaukee Art Museum. The exhibition is curated by Jan Debbaut and Ben Borthwick, and coordinated at the Milwaukee Art Museum by Chief Curator Joe Ketner.
The United States tour of Gilbert & George:
San Francisco’s de Young Museum | February–May 2008
Milwaukee Art Museum | June 14–September 1, 2008
Brooklyn Museum of Art | October 2008–January 2009
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