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First Major Gilbert & George Retrospective Arrives at The Milwaukee Art Museum
Gilbert & George, England, 1980. 301 x 301 cm. Tate. © Gilbert & George.

MILWAUKEE.- The first major retrospective in over twenty-five years of the British artists Gilbert & George makes the only Midwest stop on its international tour at the Milwaukee Art Museum, June 14-September 1, 2008. The exhibition is the largest ever mounted of their art, with more than 45 pictures from 1971 to the present and a host of archive materials that follow the prolific forty-year career of these iconic provocateurs.

The art of Gilbert and George encompasses an astonishing range of emotions and themes, from rural idylls to gritty images of a decaying London; from fantastical brightly colored panoramas to raw examinations of humanity stripped bare; from sex advertisements to religious fundamentalism. Since they began creating art together, the artists have always wanted to communicate beyond the narrow confines of the art world, adopting the slogan “Art for All.”

Gilbert & George is a thorough presentation of the large-scale pictures for which the artists have become renowned, and provides a comprehensive overview of the other artistic media explored by the artists since the late 1960s. The artists themselves and over 30 public and private lenders have contributed six films and several hand-drawn preparatory sketches, as well as books, historical photographs, announcements, and other documentation from throughout their career. Gilbert & George also features new works made especially for the exhibition.

Since their meeting at St. Martins School of Art, London, in 1967, Gilbert and George have presented themselves as a single artist, united by the unwavering maxim, “Always be smartly dressed, well groomed relaxed friendly polite and in complete control.” Self-proclaimed living sculptures, the two use their own bodies to boldly present subject matter addressing universal themes such as birth, death, and bodily functions. Conceived and organized by Britain’s Tate Gallery with their full support and collaboration, the artists consider this the definitive presentation of their work to date.

The Milwaukee Art Museum is the second of only three North American venues for Gilbert & George. Prior to coming to Milwaukee, the exhibition was on view at the Tate Modern, London, from February through May 2007; Haus der Kunst, Munich, from June through September 2007; Castello de Rivoli, Turin, October 2007 through January 2008; and the de Young Museum, San Francisco, February through May 2008. Gilbert & George will end its international tour at the Brooklyn Museum of Art October 2008 through January 2009.

A Tate Modern, London exhibition in association with the Milwaukee Art Museum. The exhibition is curated by Jan Debbaut and Ben Borthwick, and coordinated at the Milwaukee Art Museum by Chief Curator Joe Ketner.

Gilbert was born in San Martino, Italy, 1943. He studied at Wolkenstein School of Art, Hallein School of Art in Austria, Munich Academy of Art, and finally at St. Martins School of Art, London, where he met George in 1967. Born in Devon, England, 1942, George studied at Dartington Adult Education Center, Dartington Hall College of Art, Oxford School of Art, and St. Martins School of Art.

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