With its major spring show, Deichtorhallen
Hamburg is once again bringing stars of the international art world to Hamburg. British artists Gilbert & George (born 1943 and 1942) have long since been acknowledged icons of British art, with their joyfully staged breaches of taboos and their stylish appearance as conservative dandies.
The show will present the latest, wide-ranging group of pictures the duo has created. Called the Jack Freak Pictures. They will be on display in the cathedral-like setting of the large Deichtorhalle from February 25 to May 22, 2011 for the first time more or less in its entirety some 120 pictures will be on view.
The duos large-format pictures may in a sense resemble Medieval church windows, but present decidedly profane themes. In this case, Gilbert & George have created a group around the British national symbol, the Union Jack, with all its different connotations, from symbol of national pride through to the cult symbol of the British Pop world and countercultures. Surrounded by medals and amulets, the streets of London and the red, blue and white design of the British flag, as in their previous art here Gilbert & George are not only the creators of their own world of images, but also act as protagonists in it.
The Jack Freak Pictures are among the most symbolic, philosophically most elaborate and visually striking art Gilbert & George have ever created. Within Gilbert & Georges oeuvre as a whole they constitute the powerful concentration of the themes and emotions that the artists have now been exploring in their art for more than 40 years. In these pictures, the artists play the roles of both victim and monster, puppets of a cosmic revue, sleepless guardians of empty big-city streets and crazy-looking talking heads, as Michael Bracewell outlines in his essay in the exhibition catalog. The large sized images, digital processed, do not address the individual constitution of the two artists but instead point up states of human existence and can be read as a description of the modern world from the artists point of view.
The exhibition is being organized by Deichtorhallen Hamburg and the British Council and will move on from Hamburg, albeit it on a smaller scale, to Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria. Hatje Cantz Verlag has brought out a catalog with an essay by Michael Bracewell and color illustrations of all 153 works in the series.
Since 1967, Gilbert (born Sept. 17, 1943 in St. Martin / Italy) and George (born Jan. 8, 1942 in Devon, England) have formed the artist duo Gilbert & George. With the idea of using themselves as living sculptures, as the material of their art, in the 1960s they extended the notion of sculpture. Since then Gilbert & George have constantly created new variations in their art that shed light on the context of life in society today.
Gilbert & George have participated in many important group and solo exhibitions including the largest retrospective of any artist to be staged at Tate Modern (2007). The exhibition went on to tour Haus der Kunst, Munich (2007); Castello di Rivioli, Turin (2007); Milwaukee Art Museum (2008) and Brooklyn Museum (2008 09). They have had many other extensive solo exhibitions, including, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1971-1972), National Gallery, Beijing (1993), Shanghai Art Museum (1993), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1995-1996), Musée dArt Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1998), Serpentine Gallery, London (2002), Kunsthaus Bregenz (2002) and Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2004-2005). They won the Turner Prize in 1984 and represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2005.