Gilbert & George - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles

  • Exhibited

    Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes Gallery, Rudimentary Pictures, October 8, 1999 - January 9, 2000; Los Angeles, Gagosian Gallery, Rudimentary Pictures, February 3 - March 11, 2000; Lisbon, Centro Cultural de Belém, A Arte de Gilbert & George, January 11 - April 15, 2002

  • Literature

    M. Bracewell and D. Sylvester, Gilbert & George: Rudimentary Pictures, London, 1999, n.p. cover (illustrated); Centro Cultural de Belém, ed., A Arte de Gilbert & George, Lisbon, 2002, n.p. (illustrated); Gilbert & George, ed., Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures 1971-2005, Volume 2, New York, 2007, pp. 675, 958 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Gilbert met George in 1967 while studying at St. Martins School of Art. The subversive duo has ceaselessly been making provocative and progressive art since. They are not artists, but an artist. From the beginning of their collaboration, their mission was to turn themselves into ‘living sculptures,’ sacrificing their individual identities for the kind of art they deemed creative. “Art for All” is their manifesto, but they also believe that everything has the potential to be art itself, addressing social and political issues, controversies, taboos, and artistic conventions, drawing inspiration from their lives in London’s East End. Their trademark work is a kind of grid, a larger picture broken down into sections that then become unified again in a new way through the use of recognizable signs and images. In the present lot, Spell of Sweating, 1998, the grid instills an order that enables the mind to break down and understand what is presented. The deconstruction of the grid sorts the interrelationships of the images, and then reconnects them again as a whole, like a map. The grid creates individual frames around the parts that tell the story; their heads, their torsos, the sweat that binds them as they hold each other’s hand. The black circles surrounding the beads of sweat allude to magnified images, turning the fundamentals of the human body into a map of human existence. This system is a realization of an underlying order, a reflection of truth, their personal honesty. Always side by side, Gilbert & George immortalize their love in art. Spell of Sweating is from a series entitled “Rudimentary Pictures,” all of which are maps of London with magnified images of blood, sweat, urine, sperm, or tears, revealing the essential functions of life and love. Speaking about The Rudimentary Pictures, Gilbert & George have said: “They deal with the thoughts and feelings that lie within us all and with the issues that confront us daily. Our cities, your tears, their money, the rain, our sexuality, your sweat, their views are all in The Rudimentary Pictures.” (Gilbert & George: The Rudimentary Pictures, London, 1999).


Spell of Sweating


Hand colored photographs in fifteen parts in artist’s frames.

89 x 125 in. (226 x 317 cm).

Signed and dated “Gilbert & George 1998” lower right panel.

$180,000 - 250,000 

Sold for $206,500

Contemporary Art Part I

12 Nov 2009
New York