Gilbert & George
- Gilbert & George
- signed, titled and dated 1984
- hand colored photographs, in 30 parts
- overall: 119 by 119 in. 302.3 by 302.3 cm.
Acquired by the present owner from the above
Bordeaux, capc Musée d'Art Contemporain; Kunsthalle Basel; Brussels, Palais des Beaux Arts; Madrid, Palacio de Velàzquez, Parque del Retiro; Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus; London, Hayward Gallery, Gilbert & George: Pictures 1982 to 1985, May 1986 - September 1987
Gilbert & George’s extraordinary body of work addresses a number of themes drawn from the basic matter of human experience. As George noted, “We so often say that within the person, when we are working, we have our brain, our soul and our sex. These are the three things we work with … It’s always with a combination of those three that we work. The whole of civilization continues because of those driving work forces.” (George quoted in Carter Ratcliff, Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures, 1971-1985, New York, 1986, p. XXV). The germinal qualities of the mind, body and spirit are indeed vigorously translated by Gilbert & George in the present work; a photo-work that seems to evince the very seed of their creativity.
Executed in 1984, the year they were first nominated for the Turner Prize (they would win in 1986), Seed powerfully displays the artists’ visual vocabulary; a tapestry of self-portraits, fruits and body parts, symmetrically arranged, sometimes amplified and sometimes reduced in scale. This language of hyperbole and litotes provides an arresting experience for the viewer. One is immediately struck by the sheer size of Seed, displaying a scale at which human beings live, yet blowing up body parts so that they become monstrous. Small organic phenomena, here such as bananas, are also totemically arranged and imbued with a monumental strength. Their composition neatly fits their grid of thirty individual photographs, sharing the same fluidity between image and grid that one finds in the tighter, more symmetrical works from this period. Above all else, Seed dazzles the viewer with the artists’ wonderful handling of psychedelic color. Bright waves of primary color burst out of the pictorial space, further denying any sense of the ‘natural’ that might have been suggested by their figuration. Seed perfectly sums up George’s comment that “We are making a language out of colours. It’s not exactly like life. Life’s colours are mixed up. Ours are separated.” (Ibid., p. XXIX)