Gilbert & George

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Gilbert & George, sometimes referred to as Gilbert Proesch (born 1943) and George Passmore (born 1942), are two artists who work together as a collaborative duo. They are known for their highly formal appearance and manner and also for their brightly coloured graphic-style photo-based artworks.



  1. Always be smartly dressed, well groomed relaxed friendly polite and in complete control
  2. Make the world to believe in you and to pay heavily for this privilege
  3. Never worry assess discuss or criticize but remain quiet, respectful and calm.
  4. The lord chisels still, so don't leave your bench for long.
  • Gilbert & George (1969), as cited in: Gilbert, ‎George (1997). The words of Gilbert & George: with portraits of the artists from 1968 to 1997. p. 17
  • We think of our art as just pictures, not as photographs. We are using photography, not being photographers.
    • In: The British Journal of Photography, Vol. 134 (1987), p. 966
  • To create, you must empty yourself of every artistic thought.
    • Cited in: The Santa Fe Reporter from Santa Fe, New Mexico (23 September 1998), p. 89
  • Really creative thinking does not occur with regard to problems.
    • Cited in: The Santa Fe Reporter from Santa Fe, New Mexico (23 September 1998), p. 89

The words of Gilbert & George, 1997[edit]

Gilbert, George. The words of Gilbert & George: with portraits of the artists from 1968 to 1997. Violette Editions, 1997.
  • If you are submerged in normal life, then your view will be normal. So we have to keep separate from normal life in order to be able to say something that is not known. People come to art for something that they don’t understand, that’s not in their life already.
    • p. 147. George
  • It is important to us to publish our art in books and catalogues, so as many people as possible are able to see it, but we also want them to see the real pieces. We like it very much when the pictures take over. When they’re bigger than the viewer. You go to a museum to look at a picture, but we like it when the picture looks at you.
  • George: One man naked is a male study; more than one, well... that's quite serious - two men naked are more naked than one.
    • George, p. 227


  • George: We say that how we are that day made us do that picture and we have to respect that. If you have another thought, that's another picture; it would be another one.
Gilbert: What we are, that's what we are and that's it, we accept it totally. We never change our mind about that. What's your working day?
George: When we're actually creating the pictures, it's a very, very heavy day. We get up at six, the cafes near us open at six, have a quick breakfast and we start and we work normally around the clock or a little bit more, but never less.
Gilbert: But it depends what we are doing. If we are taking images, we have to be creative, so we have to be loose, we have to dream more. And we… it cannot be rigid, no, because we have to feel the world. And then even when we do the design we have to be totally free, we always jump in and out of the studio, back in the street, walk up and down, come back in again, do another drawing, run out again… that’s how we do it, like we always say we are doing it like being in a black bag. We don’t want to know, that’s our motto always, don’t know, we’re just feeling it. But then once the designs are done, the initial design, then we never change, and after that it’s only making it, and making it we are doing it many, many hours, we do 8 hours, 9 hours a day.
  • In: John Tusa (2005). The Janus Aspect: Artists in the Twenty-first Century. p. 124: Transcript of the John Tusa Interview with Gilbert and George (online)
  • We like to think that we’re forming our tomorrows, that we’re making pictures that don’t exist in reality, that maybe tomorrow will be a little bit more like our pictures than it would otherwise.
  • People used to refer to our art as "gay art"—though they never said the "gay art of Leonardo or Michelangelo." Much of our content used to be taboo and isn't considered that anymore, not just in the obvious ways of sexuality or bodies. The art world has moved to the point that Gilbert & George isn't on the radical edge anymore.

Gilbert and George in the mirror (2005)[edit]

Martin Gayford. "Gilbert and George in the mirror" in The Telegraph (1 June 2005).
  • But we don't want to think. It's exhausting enough without that. We didn't think when we did the Ginkgo Pictures, at all. Afterwards we found out all this stuff about them.
    • George in answer of Martin Gayford's question "The internet is an extraordinary medium which is changing the way that people think."
  • We don't want to know what we are doing. It's much better not to know. You have to express yourselves, once you've finished a group of works you have to start all over again. It's extraordinary stuff - what an artist has to do. You finish a big group of works, then the next day you have to begin again. Forty years we've been doing that.
    • Gilbert
  • A clergyman once said to us, "Jealousy is a bad thing. But I must confess that I am sometimes jealous of the artist because the artist is closer to creation."
    • George

Interview with Gilbert & George (2013)[edit]

Slava Mogutin. "Interview with Gilbert & George" for Whitewall Magazine (Winter 2013).
  • SM: Let’s start with a trivial question: why Gilbert and George and not George and Gilbert?
George: When we started first we used to alternate, Gilbert and George, George and Gilbert…
Gilbert: Then we settled on this one, like a slogan, not for any reason.
  • SM: You’ve always put yourselves in the center of your work and there’s a strong performance element in your practice. Has it changed throughout the years?
George: We never said performance. We believe these are pictures not by picture-makers but "living sculptures."
Gilbert: We are the center of our art, so what we leave behind is all us speaking to the viewer, you see always us part of being here. It was not a performance but a kind of sculpture, a living sculpture, and for us this is a very good form to speak.
George: If the young people go to college and learn how to make pictures, they should learn how to make these ones. They’re letters, visual letters…
Gilbert: We always say we make a kind of moralogue: good people, bad people, what should be changed, sexuality, unhappiness, drunkenness, religion, politics—all included, all what’s inside human beings, not the abstract art that doesn’t offend anybody.

Quotes about Gilbert & George[edit]

  • If a performance artist started going on about England and our culture like that-in fact that's happened to Gilbert and George, they are about the only ones I know that have done anything of this sort. It seems to me that both yourself and other artists can talk about flags and America and all this… you can play with these ideas, you may not believe in it, that you can play such a close game with them without anyone being offended.
    • Rob La Frenais, in "An Interview with Laurie Anderson," in The Art of Performance A Critical Anthology. Gregory Battcock and Robert Nickas. (eds.), 1984. p. 136
  • THE SINGING SCULPTURE brought Gilbert & George their first taste of fame in 1969. The piece consists of the artists performing a 1930s music hall song called "Underneath the Arches". Gilbert & George would stand on a table and sing along to a record of the old song, wearing tweed suits, with their faces painted bronze, and using a glove and a plastic walking stick as props. The song’s lyrics tell about the life of a tramp in London whose home is outdoors underneath the arches of a bridge. Gilbert & George first performed the piece under a bridge in London, and were soon invited to perform it in many European cities where it was always received as a sensation.

External links[edit]

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