Gilbert & George - Contemporary Art Part I New York Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, Paris; Private collection, New York

  • Exhibited

    Paris, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, May 28 – August 1, 1998; Salzburg, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, August 30 – October 10, 1998; and Naples, Museo di Capodimonte, December 12, 1998 – February 7, 1999, Gilbert & George New Testamental Pictures

  • Literature

    M. Codognato, A. Bonita Oliva, and A. Tecce, Gilbert & George New Testamental Pictures, Milan, 1998, p. 57 (illustrated); J.M.G. Cortés, ed., Gilbert & George (1986-1997), Valencia, 1999, Volume 1 pp. 122-123 (illustrated) and Volume 2 pp. 202-203 (illustrated); M. d’Argenzio, R. Riley, and M. Veiga, A Arte de Gilbert & George, Lisbon, 2001, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “We think every single person is religious, to a certain degree.
    That’s what we are, as well. We try to sort out what that means.”

    Gilbert & George. 1986

    Rooted in a powerful and unyielding realism, as well as a commitment to the capacity of art to reveal beauty and truth, Gilbert & George’s body of work captures broad human experiences; from fantastical brightly-colored panoramas to raw examinations of humanity stripped bare; from sex advertisements to religious fundamentalism, all the while encompassing an astonishing range of emotions and themes. From the start of their artistic careers, they wanted to communicate beyond the narrow confines of the art world, adopting the slogan ‘Art for All’, and have succeeded in this endeavor magnificently.

    Throughout their body of work, sacred and secular imagery has pervaded their photographic creations. Mixing ancient and modern themes steeped in religious subject matter, simultaneously coded and explicit, opulent and debased, they have exposed themselves completely, physically and metaphorically which is best exemplified in the present lot Shadow Blind, a work from their 1997 series entitled New Testamental Pictures. The title of the series itself is a cunning pun on the Biblical sense, and features the artists' own blood, tears, excrement and sweat. The images from this series all relate to sexual behavior and are set against religious texts.

    In Shadow Blind, Gilbert & George convey an intimate and ruthless honesty imbued with sexuality and religion. The pair seem to explicitly assume the personas of Adam and Eve, their poses strongly hark those in masterworks about the Expulsion from Paradise by such famous artists as Mantegna, Masaccio and Durer. It is further explained that “The ‘narration’ thus turns towards apocalyptic desolation; the naked bodies of the two artists appear in the foreground, clinging to each other in the face of the unsayable or – like Masaccio’s figures of Adam and Eve – with their faces covered by their hands, but the alternation between provocative gestures and irreverent interventions does not reduce the Jehoshaphat Valley-like Old Testament climate that pervades the whole series” (A. Bonita Oliva, A. Tecce, M. Codognato, eds., Gilbert & George: New Testamental Pictures, Italy, 1999, p. 23).

    Gilbert & George further thrust forward the religious and sexual themes in Shadow Blind, by superimposing three self-portraits of themselves; one of the very few times they have done this throughout their extensive body of work. The image of the artists, naked, with their hands covering their eyes, overlays a close-up of the artists; one’s eyes closed ambiguously portrayed as if in a state of bliss or religious exaltation and the other’s eyes wide open; both scenes juxtaposed next to their shadows as if to suggest their expulsion from Eden. In the present lot, Gilbert & George powerfully create a new version of religious history steeped in contemporary imagery, which essentially becomes a commentary on the condition of Man of our time.


Shadow Blind

12 hand-dyed photographs in artist’s metal frames.
Each 25 x 29 3/4 in.; Overall 75 x 119 in. (190.5 x 302.3 cm).
Signed, titled and dated “Shadow Blind Gilbert + George 1997” in lower left.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $228,000

Contemporary Art Part I

17 May 2007
7pm New York