From 3 July to 26 August 2019, the Fondation presents a complete version of a rare series by Gilbert & George, “There Were Two Young Men” (April 1971), a “Charcoal on Paper sculpture” in six parts belonging to the Fondation’s collection. This work was first shown in 1971 at the Sperone Gallery in Turin. It is part of a series of 13 sculptures, created between 1970 and 1974, and now dispersed throughout the word.
Thanks to its monumental proportions, There Were Two Young Men suggests an immersive relationship with the viewer. This “sculpture” depicts two protagonists – the artists – in a bucolic environment whose hedonism is tinged with melancholy. They seem to be conversing quietly, leaning on a tree, in the spirit of neo-romantic British landscape painting. The graphic intrusions, in each part of the “sculpture”, from the title in capitals which pins down the image, to a handwritten poetic text in capitals and lowercase letters, adds a further complexity, alluding to the universe of popular poetry and nursery rhymes.
There Were Two Young Men is presented alongside other works by Gilbert & George created from a similar inspiration, such as Limericks (1971) – also in the Fondation’s Collection – a "Postal Sculpture" in eight parts whose illustrations have been taken from pictures of bomb sites, paths beside the Thames or rural Suffolk, while citing the same texts of vernacular poetry as There Were Two Young Men. Respecting the desire of the artists, Nature Photo Piece (1971), a composition of black-and-white photographs features in the exhibition, as well as two contemporary Video Sculptures.