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  • Overview

    George: In 'Dusty Corners', there is only the fabric of the building and ourselves. No other elements at all.

    Gilbert: And that is how we felt.

    George: Yes, our works are always true, literally. Just lifted from where we were when we made them.

    Gilbert: We never tried to invent anything.
    —Gilbert & George, 1997
    An early photographic composition belonging to an eponymous series of 21 works, Dusty Corners depicts the celebrated British duo Gilbert & George in their home and studio on Fournier Street, London, where they have resided since 1968. Comprising four photographs arranged in a grid, the work highlights the artists’ quintessential use of text and image, delineating the work’s title in the lower right quadrant of the composition, and their two silhouettes diametrically opposed to one another. About the series, the art critic Laura Cummings explained: ‘The marvelous Dusty Corners, haunting checkerboards of interiors in which each artist appears alone in a shadowy room, alternating upstairs and downstairs with the oppressively vacant chambers of their house, the world before, and as it seems after, they were here’.1 Signifying the importance of this highly intimate and melancholic series within their oeuvre, Dusty Corners was bestowed a room within their major monographic exhibition of 2004, Gilbert & George, at Tate Modern, and another photographic example of the same year, Bloody Life and Dusty Corners resides at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Notably, the artistic duo have once more come to the forefront of the public’s attention through their current monographic exhibition GILBERT & GEORGE: THE GREAT EXHIBITION taking place at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, and running until 16 May 2021.

     

    Installation shot of Room 4, Gilbert and George Major exhibiton, 2007, Tate Modern.  Image: © Tate.
    Installation shot of Room 4, Gilbert & George major exhibition, 2007, Tate Modern. Image: © Tate.

    'The marvelous Dusty Corners, haunting checkerboards of interiors in which each artist appears alone in a shadowy room, alternating upstairs and downstairs with the oppressively vacant chambers of their house.’
    —Laura Cummings

    In the Dusty Corners series, Gilbert & George allow the viewer entry into their Spitalfields residence, in an area historically known for being the home of button-makers, furriers and hat-makers, and collectively known as a garment district – an apt location for the artistic duo whose fame not only accounted for their art but also their fashion trademark: perfectly tailored matching suits. The two artists moved into the area while they were both studying sculpture at Saint Martin's School of Art, to what they deemed the cheapest flat they could find. Their entire body of work has been and continues to be created in this townhouse, making them true icons of the neighbourhood. As George explains, ‘Nothing happens in the world that doesn't happen in the East End’.2

  • Dusty Corners: Slow Looking

  • Home and Selfhood

     

    Depicting the artists enclosed in the wood panel interior of their 18th century home, which upon original purchase was in a state of complete dilapidation, Dusty Corners bears a number of associations with art dedicated to the connection between the interior and the self. Indeed, in its portrayal of an intimate space which doubles as a self-portrait of sorts, Dusty Corners is reminiscent of the British artist Tracey Emin’s seminal My Bed, which similarly reproduces a symbol of domesticity imparted with individuated persona. This raw character only adds intrigue to the dramatic and haunting black and white photographs featured in each of the works from the series; the gloom of the unkempt house is palpable, its dirty windows and screeching floorboards leaving the artists as if floating in what seems to be a timeless realm of being.

     

    Gilbert and George at their home in Fournier Street, Spitalfields, East London, circa 1990. Image: David Montgomery/Getty Images.
    Gilbert & George at their home on Fournier Street, Spitalfields, East London, circa 1990. Image: David Montgomery/Getty Images.

    A Window to the Soul

     

    Divided in four sections of equal dimensions, Dirty Corners emulates the appearance of a window or a door — a visual symbol richly employed in the history of art. Similar to Rachel Whiteread’s resin doors and Vilhem Hammershøi’s poetic paintings of interior settings illuminated by the light shining through discreet windows, Dusty Corners employs a play with light and composition that invites the viewer into a space that can only be understood as personal. In the present example, the symmetrical composition deconstructs the traditional understanding of a home, showing instead truncated elements of domesticity that together convey an atmosphere rather than a real space. ‘In our art and in our life, I think we are very interested in that that is discarded or disguised or discredited’, George explained.3 Shedding light and importance on the ‘dusty corners’ of their home, the present composition attests to the duo’s ability to infuse life in the overlooked elements of phenomenological life.

     

    Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior, Sunlight on the Floor, 1906, oil on canvas, Tate, London. Image:© Tate.
    Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior, Sunlight on the Floor, 1906, oil on canvas, Tate, London. Image:© Tate.
  • 1 Laura Cummings, ‘Better Than a Poke in the Eye’, The Observer, London, February 18, 2007, online.
    2 George, quoted in Anna van Praagh, ‘Gilbert and George: ‘Margaret Thatcher did a lot for art’, The Telegraph, July 5, 2009, online.
    3 George, quoted in Edward Paginton, ‘At home with Gilbert & George’, The Guardian, 19 May 2015, online.

    • Provenance

      Art Agency, Tokyo
      Gallery Kanransha, Tokyo
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1983

    • Exhibited

      Tokyo, Art Agency, Dusty Corners, Autumn 1975
      Hiroshima, Hirose Collection, Gilbert & George, 28 March – 27 April 2014

    • Literature

      Rudi Fuchs, Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures 1971 - 2005, vol. 1, London, 2007, pp. 216, 616, (illustrated, p. 216)

33

Dusty Corners No. 8

signed and numbered ‘8 Gilbert George’ on the lower right image; printed with the title and date ‘Dusty Corners Autumn 1975’ on the lower right image
gelatin silver print, in artist's frame, in 4 parts
each 60.3 x 50.3 cm (23 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.)
overall 120.6 x 100.6 cm (47 1/2 x 39 5/8 in.)

Executed in 1975.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£250,000 - 350,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £252,000

Contact Specialist

 

Rosanna Widén
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 15 April 2021