Gilbert & George - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Bernier/Eliades, Athens

  • Exhibited

    London, Tate Modern, Gilbert & George: Major Exhibition, 15 February – 17 May 2007

  • Catalogue Essay

    Simultaneously a haunting self-portrait, a loud proclamation, a mocking billboard, Gilbert & George’s Heart encompasses many of the British/Italian duo’s recurrent themes. Since the beginning of their partnership while still students at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London in the 1960s, the two artists have lived and worked together in their home in East London, presenting art that pokes fun at insular British society while highlighting the deeper social issues of our time.

    The pair broke the mould with The Singing Sculpture in 1969, in which the artists, in gold face-paint and tweed suits, danced and sang ‘Underneath the Arches’ for as long as eight hours a day. Believing in ‘art for all’, Gilbert & George were pioneers in the break from minimalism and conceptual art that took root in Britain’s art schools in the 1970s. Their acclaimed work has since been featured in the International Venice Biennale, the Turner Prize and was the subject of a major retrospective at Tate Modern in 2007.

    Heart is one of the multi-panelled works in their 2004 series Thirteen Hooligan Pictures. Of this series, Gilbert & George have said: “The group relates to something that doesn’t function properly, a shattered human being who misbehaves… There’s something incomplete, unbalanced about the way we depict ourselves here” (from Tate exhibition guide). It reflects the duo’s tongue-in-cheek take on British politics and Government scare mongering. Presented in their trademark large grid format, the pair recoil in mock fear while a dark shadow looms behind them. Under the cover of moonlight near a London mosque, Gilbert & George are struck by a heart-stopping encounter, mouthing a terrifying scream. Created in the wake of 9/11 and in the midst of the war on terror, the series plays on our insecurities and social taboos. But the overriding sense of irony in their camp poses reminds us that the joke is on us – the world is not half as bad as we are led to believe.

30

Heart

2004
Colour coupler prints in artists’ metal frames in 9 parts.
Overall: 190 × 226.5 cm (74 3/4 × 89 1/8 in).

Estimate
£100,000 - 150,000 ‡ ♠

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

12 October 2011
London