From: de Young Museum Limited Edition: 45 Exhibition: Gilbert & George Material: Printed vinyl Dimensions: 35" x 72" (88.9cm x 182.88cm)
Hanging Hardware Included
The 1980s brought us many duos, from Hall & Oates to Joanie & Chachi. Fortunately, it also brought us some fascinating art by the duo of Gilbert & George. 45 banners featuring a detail of "Life" from their 1984 work "Life Death Hope Fear" are available from their retrospective at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Rendered in their inimitable style of cartoon brights, self-referential photography, and an almost Renaissance stained-glass aesthetic, the banners showcase their work to full effect. What would life be without death? Also from the Gilbert & George show come 45 banners featuring a detail of "Death" from "Life Death Hope Fear". While their "Life" image sends a message of movement, sound, and energy, the "Death" image portrays the two in still poses, expressionless, and motionless. The hothouse colors, however, bloom on both banners making them an incredible pair to hang side-by-side for maximum effect.
Gilbert & George started their career battling the elitism of the art world by declaring themselves to be “living sculptures”. Almost always seen together, the pair donned their now-trademark suits and created projects that were anything but conventional.
They became known for a particular style of large-scale photo-montage they developed in the early 1980s that overlays a black grid, thick black outlines, and bright hues. The end result resembles stained glass windows. The works often feature the artists themselves along with text, elements from nature, and religious symbolism. They have attracted media attention because of some of the “shocking” imagery they included such as nudity, excrement, and bodily fluids. They do not seek a “shock value” in their works, and maintain that shock value is not something they instill in the work, but something personal that the viewer owns through their reaction to what they see. Ultimately, their works explore modern urban life and the hopes and fears that are part of modern society.
These banners feature a detail of one of their most ambitious photo-montages, Death Hope Life Fear from 1984. The complete work is made up of four parts, each representing one of the titular themes. On the banner is the central imagery from “Death”. This features the artists clad in their suits and brightly colorized in saturated purples and reds. They grow and shrink in scale, suggesting the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. In the image, they are placed amidst the petals of a rose and a daisy, embraced by the life force of the flowers, but immobile and still in their poses. The duo believe in the concept of “art for all”, not from the sense of accessibility, but in the sense that a work of art is shown, and all viewers can assess it, understand it, and determine for themselves what they think of it.
The image covers the entire front of the banner. The other side of the banner is red with white text that reads "de Young/Gilbert & George" and features the museum’s distinctive logo. The closing date of the exhibition "Through May 18" is printed in black at the bottom of the banner.
These banners were displayed around San Francisco to promote the De Young museum’s retrospective exhibition Gilbert & George from February 16, 2008 — May 18, 2008. The exhibition was also seen at the Tate Modern, Brooklyn Museum, and Milwaukee Art Museum. Another banner from the exhibition features Gilbert & George's companion work, Life.