Artist biography

British sculptors. Gilbert Proesch (b Dolomites, Italy, 17 Sept 1943) and George Passmore (b Plymouth, Devon, 8 Jan 1942) met in 1967 as students at St Martin's School of Art in London. By 1969 they were reacting against approaches to sculpture then dominant at St Martin's, which they regarded as elitist and poor at communicating outside an art context. Their strategy was to make themselves into sculpture, so sacrificing their separate identities to art and turning the notion of creativity on its head.

Although working in a variety of media, Gilbert and George referred to all their work as sculpture. Between 1970 and 1974 they also made drawings (referred to as Charcoal on Paper Sculptures) and paintings to give a more tangible form to their identity as ‘living sculptures'.

In 1971 Gilbert & George made their first ‘photo-pieces', which remained their dominant form of expression. They gradually shifted the emphasis of their subject-matter away from their own experiences of life. Instead they concentrated on the inner-city reality that confronted them on the street and on the structures and feelings that inform life such as religion, class, royalty, sex, hope, nationality, death, identity, politics and fear. Their belief that they are making an ‘Art for Life's Sake' and an ‘Art for All' was, at the beginning of the 1990s, given a renewed emphasis through their exhibitions mounted in Moscow (1990), Beijing and Shanghai (1993). These exhibitions underline their belief that art can still positively break down barriers.

Bibliography
C. Ratcliff: Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures, 1971–1985 (London, 1986)
W. Jahn: The Art of Gilbert & George (London, 1989)

ANDREW WILSON

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