Gilbert & George are inveterate collectors of images and, over the years, they have bought thousands of postcards, ranging from the gaudy and sexual to more sedate views of sunsets or landscapes. In the Postcard Sculptures, they arrange a selection of these ‘found’ images into small and intimate designs or vast grids. Through repetition, recognisable forms and faces become like abstract motifs in the pattern of a carpet. Fields of colour create a near-hypnotic effect. The artists regard these as ‘sketches’ rather than fully-fledged pictures. However, they have noted that many of the themes in their pictures first surfaced in Postcard Sculptures.
The vitrines in this room contain RED BOXERS from 1975 and THE RED SCULPTURE ALBUM from 1976. RED BOXERS was a postal sculpture in eight parts, which was sent out one part at a time over eight weeks. It is possible to trace the artists’ use of multiple print techniques, using the photographic image as a raw material that goes through layers of transformation until it ends up resembling an artisanal hand-made object. THE RED SCULPTURE was a live piece that the artists first presented in Tokyo, which the ALBUM transposes into book form. They appeared with their faces and hands painted red, moving almost robotically and assuming poses related to those in earlier groups of pictures like BLOODY LIFE and DUSTY CORNERS.