Catalogue entry

T03297 ENGLAND 1980

Inscribed ‘England/Gilbert and George/1980’ bottom right
30 photographs in black frames, each photograph 23 1/2 × 19 7/16 (60 × 50); overall dimensions 119 3/4 × 119 3/8 (325 × 325)
Purchased from Anthony d'Offay Ltd (Grant-in-Aid) 1981
Exh: Gilbert and George, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, November 1980 and tour to the Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf, January 1981, Kunsthalle, Bern, February, Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Paris, April and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, July 1981 (no catalogue)

Gilbert and George took photographs of one another and of a wild English rose and its leaves for use in ‘England’. They processed the photographs themselves and coloured some of them red and others green. All this work was done at their studio in Fournier Street, London E.I.

The stance of the artists in the lower photographs shows them making ‘a physical salute’, a salute which involves ‘all the physique, not just an arm’ to England. The photographs of the artists top left and top right are intended to suggest Gothic gargoyles or fearsome figureheads on Viking boats, and express the artists's inner feelings and fears about forces outside England who might wish to invade the country. The green leaves are also intended to evoke Gothic carvings of plants and leaves. Gilbert and George see this particular work as ‘being about nationhood’.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984