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  • Provenance

    Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London; Private collection, Belgium; Private collection, Switzerland

  • Literature

    C. Ratcliff, Gilbert and George: The Complete Pictures 1971 - 1985, Munich, 1986, p. 168 (illustrated); W. Jahn, The Art of Gilbert & George, New York 1989, p. 322 (illustrated); R. Fusch and Gilbert & George, Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures 1971 - 2005, Volume One, London 2007, p. 377 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Morality and a fear of social decay were centralized in a series of works created in the early 1980s by the artist duo Gilbert and George. Infamous for their use of large scale photographic montages of a highly graphic and stylized aesthetic, the pair utilised a broad range of religious iconography and symbolism in portraying anonymous ‘foreigners’, resulting in powerful, oppressive images of the oppressed and ostracized. The series, appropriately titled Modern Fears, displays compassion for the ‘outsider’ and forges icons out of their subjects, forcing their audience to consider their own position in not just western society but the world, and even our spirituality as the figures in this series resemble modern day prophets. Our present lot Viking stares out of the image with a gripping gaze that locks its viewers into a state amazement, the portrait is presented simply and purely, a style of working that is not typical to the pair, but in its simplicity Viking embodies a raw emotion and a sense of tragedy and sadness that perfectly embodied the feeling that the artists are trying to communicate. Through portraying the human individual they articulate their belief that patriotic values tend to foist a concept of national identity onto the masses, the consequence of which is a sense of hostility and distrust towards anything that is nationalist.  

    “We want the most accessible modern form with which to create the most modern speaking visual pictures of our time. The art-material must be subservient to the meaning and purpose of the picture. Our reason for making pictures is to change people and not to congratulate them on being how they are.” (Gilbert and George, “Art in Art” statement)

    The Modern Fears series, Viking in particular, as well as communicating Gilbert and George’s distrust of nationalistic ideals of which they feel impression any sense of individual identity, achieve an intimacy and silence. Viking is a private image of the isolated that resonates with a longing and a sense of desire for the beautiful foreigner. 



Twenty hand-dyed gelatin silver prints. 
Overall: 302.5 x 202 cm. (119 x 79 1/2 in).
Signed, titled and dated 'Viking Gilbert and George 1980' lower right.

£100,000 - 150,000 ‡ ♠

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

18 Oct 2008, 7pm