Gilbert (born Dolomites, 1943) and George (born Devon, 1942) first met in 1967 at St Martin’s School of Art, London, where they decided to work together and to make themselves, as artists ‘alone in the world’, the subject of their artwork.
Despite this apparently simple aim, their art has a strong moral ambition. One of their earliest living sculpture presentations, Underneath The Arches 1969, addressed the life of the tramp, the homeless and the dispossessed.This concern for producing ‘art for life’s sake’ is echoed in their belief that they are making an ‘Art for All’.
‘It’s very important, when a person is standing in front of one of our pictures, that it is not an aesthetic composition, that it is not a picture that they decide whether they like or dislike. We say that art is a friendship between the viewer and the picture, a tunnel of thought. They are like visual love letters to the viewer. If you walk through the city you cannot remember one single person you pass, and you pass hundreds and they are all invisible. But if one person comes up and takes you by both hands and says “excuse me, I want to say something to you”, you will remember that probably forever, depending on what he or she says.’
Years later this vision remains and can be found in The Cosmological Pictures, created in 1989. A ‘Cosmology’ can be defined as the construction of the universe as an order whole-the means to find unity in diversity and contradiction-and the laws that govern theory.
With this exhibition Gilbert & George stress the power of human thought to remake life and so create the future through a process of communication, discussion and questioning, stimulated by the pictures. The word ‘cosmology’ derives from the Greek words for ‘world’ and ‘discourse’. Since September 1991, The Cosmological Pictures have been touring to 10 European cities - Krakow, Rome, Zurich, Vienna, Budapest, The Hague, Dublin, Barcelona, Liverpool and Stuttgart. Gilbert and George’s aim – to speak to many people in all of these cities – is at the heart of their cosmology.