In the Bloody Life pictures, from 1975, Gilbert & George strike poses with clenched fists and legs kicking. Even the introspective image of the artists in Bloody Life No. 3 is embedded within a frame of alcohol and the boxing ring. The brutality of these pictures reflects their experience at the time: “We went through this big destructive period of the drunken scenery, exploring ourselves, exploring our dark side, going out, getting drunk, all those destructive elements.” Regarding works such as the Dusty Corners pictures, studies of decaying empty rooms and isolated individuals marked by melancholia, Gilbert & George have stated: “We were trying to do something that was absolutely hopeless, dead, grey, lost.”

The Dirty Words Pictures feature images of graffiti taken by Gilbert & George, alongside images of London that are often similarly direct and brutal. They were created in 1977, a time of recession and social discontent, and their raw confrontational energy has been compared to punk, which emerged during the same period. Wandering the city, the artists had begun to collect images, and the power of these pictures derives partly from the way they bring together these fleeting impressions to portray the city as aggressive, decaying, and chaotic.



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