Lehmann Maupin is pleased to present a group of seminal films and video sculptures by pioneering artists Gilbert & George. Among the longest-enduring artist duos, they have had sustained influence on the contemporary art world for the past fifty years. The exhibition Films and Video Sculptures, 1972-1981 will be shown in the gallery’s 201 Chrystie Street location and represents an integral, transitional link between the artists’ early art and their later, more widely known large-scale pictures. This exhibition is the artists’ fifth show with Lehmann Maupin.
At the beginning of their art-life, Gilbert & George developed their signature form of “Living Sculpture,” embodying a sense of “being” over “doing” and upending traditional modes of art practice. With their individual identities subsumed into this vision of animate sculpture, the artists became representations of the universal human condition, a central theme in their work. Their belief in “Art for All”—that art should strive for a meaningful connection to the viewer’s everyday life, rather than a connection that can only be understood through formal arts education—infuses their art with a democratic vigor and remains a vital aspect of their vision to this day.
The exhibition begins with a group of three black & white sculptures on video tape, IN THE BUSH (1972), GORDON’S MAKES US DRUNK (1972), and A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTISTS AS YOUNG MEN (1972), all shown on monitors. Produced with the legendary German Fernsehgalerie Schum, they portray Gilbert & George engaged in repetitive, minimal actions, echoing the qualities of their “Living Sculpture.” The artists’ embrace of the then-new technology through the use of film and video highlights a landmark shift in their art, allowing Gilbert & George to extend their living sculptures beyond a particular time and place and to broadcast their art to wider audiences.
The exhibition also includes THE WORLD OF GILBERT & GEORGE (1981), a feature-length film written and directed by the artists, projected on a large screen in the gallery’s main space. Brimming with Gilbert & George’s unique visual vocabulary, it functions as a social document of life in our modern urban world, examining issues of nationality and individuality, class tensions, and the artists’ preoccupations with religion, politics, sex, death, and human existence. A precursor to the myriad future documentaries about their life and art, this film is notable for the artists’ intense level of involvement in its production. From the storyboard to the shooting script, they instructed the director Philip Haas in minute detail, creating a unique art movie masterpiece.
Lehmann Maupin, in partnership with Anthology Film Archives, will present a special evening screening of THE WORLD OF GILBERT AND GEORGE and GILBERT & GEORGE: THE SINGING SCULPTURE on Tuesday, July 15 at 6:30pm at the gallery’s 201 Chrystie Street location. Producer Philip Haas, a longtime collaborator with the artists, will introduce the works. Please contact Graham Newhall at 212-255-2923 for more information.
A major solo exhibition of Gilbert & George’s work is on view at Nouveau Musée National de Monaco through November 2, 2014