artist / participant

press release

In October, Castello di Rivoli is presenting the largest and most comprehensive retrospective to date of the art of Gilbert & George. This exhibition offers an opportunity to follow their creative process from the 1970s to the present, through approximately one hundred fifty pictures, as well as a broad selection of archival material from their private collection, related to their early production.

Gilbert, born in San Martino, Bolzano in 1943, and George, one year older, born in Devonshire, England, began working together while they were still students, at the St. Martin’s School of Art in London, in 1967. Gilbert & George are famous throughout the world for having revolutionized the concept of sculpture. The two artists have based their creative process on the entire experience of everyday life, arriving at a presentation of themselves, their own images and bodies as “living sculptures.”

In the early 1970s, they began creating pictures in black and white, which were then followed by pictures in color. In the 1980s their use of color gradually became more accentuated. The pieces that followed were created using one or more compound images that form works on a monumental scale, characterized by both everyday themes and conceptual elements. The issues that the artists most frequently address deal with religion, sexuality, race, and identity, but they also take into consideration the tensions of city life and the conflicts created by clashes of different cultural traditions and values.

The reality to which the artists often refer is connected to the origins of the urban and social structure of London’s East End, a meeting place, but also a place of tension, where the artists have lived and worked for more than forty years, and which remains one of the principal inspirations for their art.

The exhibition layout has been especially conceived by the artists for the Castello di Rivoli, and occupies the second and third floors of the museum. The selection presents their most significant pictures from the 1970s, which are linked to the night life and environment of London pubs – themes strongly pervaded by a sense of uneasy nostalgia. The first period of their production is illustrated with pictures such as Head Over Heels, 1973, Dusty Corners, 1975, and Dead Boards, 1976, where interiors of bare, decaying rooms describe a sense of melancholy and abandonment. Large-scale art from subsequent periods is also shown, such as World, 1983, up to more recent pieces, such as Named, 2001.

Specifically for this exhibition, Gilbert & George have created some works inspired by terrorist events involving the city of London in 2005. The artists have defined these pictures as the most “chilling” art they have ever created.

The exhibition, curated by Jan Debbaut, former Director of Collections at Tate, and by Ben Borthwick, Assistant Curator at Tate Modern, opened at Tate Modern in London in February, 2007. After traveling to Haus der Kunst in Munich, it is being presented at Castello di Rivoli from October 17, 2007 to January 13, 2008. It will subsequently travel to De Young Museum in San Francisco, from February to May 2008, Milwaukee Art Museum, from June to September 2008, and finally Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York, from October 2008 to January 2009.

A Tate Modern, London exhibition in association with Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin.

Curators: Jan Debbaut, formerly Director of Tate Collections and Ben Borthwick, Assistant Curator

only in german

Gilbert & George
Kurator: Jan Debbaut, Ben Borthwick