Gilbert & George

Postcard Sculpture 1974


Not on display

Gilbert & George born 1943, born 1942
55 postcards on board
Support: 1270 × 947 mm
frame: 1275 × 949 × 25 mm
Purchased 1981

Catalogue entry


Inscribed ‘Postcard Sculpture/Summer 1974/George and Gilbert’ bottom right Paper collage on board, 50 × 37 1/8 (127 × 94.7)
Purchased from Anthony d'Offay Ltd (Grant-in-Aid) 1981

Gilbert and George made their first postcard sculptures in 1972, each consisting of groups of postcards deployed horizontally and vertically. Most of the postcards used dated from before or shortly after the Great War of 1914 –18; some were in bright colours and others monochrome. Several were on the themes of the consumption of alcohol and drunkenness. These postcard pieces were each called a ‘Postcard Sculpture’ and the postcards arranged to form configurations which were irregular in outline.

The present postcard sculpture is unusually large and consists of 55 postcards, each monochrome and many dating from before 1914, arranged to form a rectangle. The subjects of the postcards include Royalty, athletes, military manoeuvres, the Palace of Westminster and picturesque views, including the countryside under snow and the coast. Some of the cards are arranged on their sides and others are upside down.

Gilbert and George have bought a great many postcards for their works. Some are old and others recently published. They buy cards of subjects in which they are interested or admire, subjects they ‘dream of, love and respect’. They are arranged to form ‘mentalscapes’ often with no one subject predominating. The artists aim for a satisfying visual effect in each of their postcard sculptures. Gilbert and George regard their postcard sculptures as being ‘sketches’ which may lead to larger photopieces.

(This catalogue entry and the two others below are based in part on a discussion on 11 November 1983 between the compiler and Gilbert and George, who have approved the three catalogue entries concerning their work.)

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


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