Gilbert & George - Wired: Online Auction London Wednesday, May 11, 2022 | Phillips

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  • 'We are interested in the human person, the complexity of life.' —Gilbert & George  Since meeting at Central St Martins School of Art in 1967, the body and its capacity to represent the human experience has been central to Gilbert & George’s artistic practice. Conducting themselves as ‘Living Sculptures’, Gilbert & George work across a variety of media, including performance, sculpture and photography to address social issues, taboos, and artistic conventions. The artistic duo categorises all their work as sculpture, pioneering a wholly unique concept and transcending the modernist principles of performance and process art. The desire to shock and raise questions is crucial to their bold iconography: no topic is off limits, and everything is a potential subject matter. 
    'Inside the body, outside the body. Everything is part of our material' —Gilbert & George Spunk on Blood forms part of The Fundamental Pictures series created in the 1990s and first exhibited at Sonnabend Gallery, New York in 1997. Comprised of 39 works, the series is vividly based around the concept of bodily excretions. The artists examined samples of urine, semen, blood and excrement under a microscope, delighting in the activity of the individual molecules which would seemingly transmute into recognisable shapes and forms.  


    Addressing important current issues at the time it was executed, Spunk on Blood, 1996, carries acute connotations of the fear and hysteria surrounding the AIDS outbreak of the 1980s and 1990s. The work is simultaneously immensely personal and immediately relatable: By displaying the artists’ own bodily specimens on a monumental scale, they themselves are under the microscope whilst also highlighting the universality of bodily excretions that are both a taboo and a necessary part of life.


    Gilbert & George continue to promote their core ideology that art is for all by enlarging the particles of our most basic elements. Spunk on Blood directly reflects their philosophy of art as a means of universal communication and creates an abstract visual style that is at once surreally beautiful and yet as real as it gets.


    Gilbert & George discuss their major retrospective at the Schindler Kunsthalle Museum in Frankfurt in 2021.

    • Condition Report

    • Description

      View our Conditions of Sale.

    • Provenance

      Sonnabend Gallery, New York
      Private Collection, London
      Christie's, London, 8 February 2001, lot 57
      Private Collection (acquired at the above sale)
      Christie's, London, 7 October 2017, lot 326
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Sonnabend Gallery and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, Gilbert & George: The Fundamental Pictures 1996, 3 May - 28 June 1997, n.p. (illustrated)
      Stockholm, Magasin 3, Gilbert & George, 6 September 1997 - 27 January 1998, p. 24 (illustrated)

    • Literature

      Rudi Fuchs, Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures 1971-2005, Vol. 2 1988-2005, London, 2007, p. 879 (illustrated)

Property from an Important Private Collection


Spunk on Blood

signed, titled and dated 'SPUNK ON BLOOD Gilbert & George 1996' lower right
hand-dyed gelatin silver prints, in artists' frames, in 9 parts
each part 63.5 x 75.6 cm (25 x 29 3/4 in.)
overall 190.5 x 226.8 cm (75 x 89 1/4 in.)

Executed in 1996.

Full Cataloguing

£60,000 - 80,000 

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Contact Specialist

Louise Simpson
Head of Sale
+44 20 7901 7911
[email protected]

Wired: Online Auction

Online Auction 11 - 18 May 2022