Park House in Highland Park Village is a wonderful venue in which to peruse a number of Gilbert & George pieces,
RESTLESS RENEGADES all dating from around a decade ago but just as fresh and relevant today.
The works on view are E II Bear (2009), Fantasy Island (2009), Flag at 10 (2009), Numbers 8 & 139 (2009),
Tarts (2009), Taxi & Bus (2009), Church (2011), Playboy (2011), and Sex Beast (2011).
One half century ago, in the same Swinging London where The Beatles were assembling Abbey Road,
two art students were building a legacy more nostalgic yet more radical than that seminal pop music LP. Gilbert Prousch was born in northern Italy and studied in Austria and Germany before arriving in the United Kingdom.
George Passmore was a native of Plymouth, Devon who had passed through Dartington and Oxford.
They both randomly wound up at St. Martin’s School of Art and met in the autumn of 1967, after which they were inseparable to this day.
Declaring themselves “sculptures” the duo forged a singular aesthetic, almost always appearing in public together in nearly matching suits.
Hoping to escape the confines of the insular art world, they declared their mission to be “ART FOR ALL” and found endless inspiration in their adopted East End neighborhood.
Gilbert & George first got their soft-shoed feet in the door by pantomiming in metallic face paint and canes to an old discovered record entitled Underneath The Arches, about hoboes making the best of their lot by bedding down where they may.
By the early 1970s the pair was assembling postcards and other printed matter in grids that subverted the minimalist ethos of the era.
In the 1980s arrived compositions comprised of luridly tinted black-framed photographs assembled into
wall-hoarding wholes with blunt titles emblazoned at the bottom. The effect recalled Britain’s history of stained glass.
Among their avid collectors was another Little Englander reaching for the stars, the late David Bowie.
Gilbert & George’s work is also included the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago,
Chicago; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Tate Gallery, London.
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