Gilbert and George (Gilbert Proesch, British, born Italy, 1943; George Passmore, British, born 1942)
Hand-dyed photographs, mounted and framed in 35 parts
119 x 139 in. (302.5 x 353.1 cm)
Anonymous Gift, 1991 (1991.210)
Since meeting as students at the St. Martin's School of Art in London in 1967, Gilbert and George, as they are now known, have been inseparable. Their artistic collaboration, spanning more than thirty-five years, has spawned a huge body of work that includes performance pieces (using their own bodies as "living sculptures"), drawings, and, since the 1970s, multipart photo pieces. They have made their life the subject of much of their art. Frequently, as in this 1987 work, they wear conservatively buttoned suits, garish ties, white-collared shirts, and deadpan expressions, and offer their unspoken commentary on a variety of subjects close to their hearts, including race, religion, and sexuality. In this case, they seem to express dismay over the horrendous conditions of a working-class section of London. Blown up to wall-size, the image of decay and destruction spreads out over the grid of thirty-five framed black-and-white photographs. The areas tinted bright yellow and blue further assault our senses, demanding that some sort of attention be paid, but their hopeless gestures suggest that, in fact, nothing can be done. Even the placement of the title, Here, at the very bottom of the composition, seems deliberate and symbolic.