Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gilbert & George 1980

Around 1974 Gilbert & George began to make ordered rectangular grids of their imagery, a format they have followed and developed to the present day. ‘Crusade’ is an early example of their increasing use of colour. Having trained as sculptors, they were initially uncertain about how to use colour, adding only red at first to their black and white compositions. Here, there is a link between the title, which refers to military expeditions to the Holy Land undertaken by Christians in the Middle Ages, and the fact that the artists are holding the backs of the chairs as if they were crosses.

‘Fallen Leaves’ is one of a series of over a hundred works, collectively titled ‘Modern Fears’, which explicitly invoke death and decay. The artists have said of this period that “we felt the style of the Western world, the fabric of its life, was very threatened”. With this body of work they presented both the bleak horror and great beauty of life as they saw it in their immediate urban environment. The series depicts many figures who appear to be disenfranchised from mainstream society. ‘Fallen Leaves’, for example, depicts close up the inscrutable features of a local tramp.

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