When icons encounter each other, friction arises.
At the Berlin Gallery Weekend, the founding father of Pop Art and two of his ‘mental sons’, continuing the movement, meet in spirit. Although Gilbert & George always distanced themselves from the American role model Warhol, his influence on their work is unmistakable. We dare an approach.
In the 1970s, Andy Warhol (1928-1987), who was already an influential representative of Pop Art, portrayed the two artists several times, each in separate shots. He transformed these portraits into his own works with his characteristic manner, and thus took up the self-portrayals of Gilbert & George from their works.
Like Andy Warhol, Gilbert & George also create flat, rhythmically stylized composite images that are loaded with meanings in an extended cultural understanding, precisely because of their aesthetic emptiness and rigid symbolism. Repeats, series and reduction to essential basic colors characterize their work.
Whenever Gilbert & George present themselves in public, then always as a pair. As one of the most important couples in the history of art, they have created a stir for 40 years. Gilbert Proesch (born 1943 in South Tyrolia) and George Passmore (born 1942 in Devon / UK) met in 1967 when students at St Martin's College of Art in London. Since that time, they live and work together. Eccentric, often dandy gigs are an integral part of their lives. "But we have nothing against dandies, they are an English invention, after all" says Gilbert. George adds, "We do not dress like dandies, we're normal, Andy Warhol was a dandy."
The subject of Warhol, says George, was consumption. "Our theme is: Humanism". The works of Gilbert & George - like Warhol's art - have their own strict characteristics. Bright basic colors behind black grid. They form strong symbols of life, death, fear or hope, often drastic and in a comic style manner. Above all, however, the two artists always appear themselves in their huge tableaux.