Gilbert & George – winner

Gilbert Proesch (b Dolomites, Italy, 17 Sept 1943) and George Passmore (b Plymouth, Devon, 8 Jan 1942) met in 1967 as students at St Martin's School of Art in London. By 1969 they were reacting against approaches to sculpture then dominant at St Martin's, which they regarded as elitist and poor at communicating outside an art context. Their strategy was to make themselves into sculpture, so sacrificing their separate identities to art and turning the notion of creativity on its head.

Gilbert and George after receiving the Turner Prize, 1986

Gilbert and George after receiving the Turner Prize, 1986

In 1971 Gilbert & George made their first ‘photo-pieces’, which remained their dominant form of expression. They gradually shifted the emphasis of their subject-matter away from their own experiences of life. Instead they concentrated on the inner-city reality that confronted them on the street and on the structures and feelings that inform life such as religion, class, royalty, sex, hope, nationality, death, identity, politics and fear.