I’m Allison and I’m an archive cataloguer here in the Tate Archive, I essentially rearrange and describe archive collections, be it business papers, personal items or collections that relate to works held in the Tate. To represent our acquisitions from 1971 I’ve picked a piece of early mail art created by Gilbert & George. Gilbert & George are two of a relatively small group of artists who have become household names. I would attribute this to both their outrageous style and their commitment to making art accessible to those outside the narrow confines of the art world. I think this is illustrated well in this piece by the inclusion of their early slogan Art for All stamped on the card.
The card was produced by Gilbert & George in 1971, and was sent and dedicated to Sarah Whitfield, a Tate curator at the time. It is part of a series of nine cards which all contain a sketch of themselves and a limerick. This is the last one in the series, titled Artist’s Culture. The card illustrates a key theme of their work - that all art is living sculpture, indeed while they were at university at St Martins in the late 60s they regularly exhibited themselves as sculpture, so they became part of their own work. In this piece, they not only include a drawing of themselves - referred to by them as Charcoal on Paper Sculptures -but the limerick is a form of singing sculpture. I like this piece because it is a work that also highlights the confident view of a unique pair of artists, who, not long out of art school were writing amusing anecdotes to a curator at the Tate Gallery, along with other art world dignitaries. If you were to illustrate your own life what would it contain? TGA 7129
Written by Allison Foster