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Gilbert & George
Gilbert Proesch (b. 1943) and George Passmore (b. 1942)
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Gilbert & George are also represented in flesh tone wearing jockey shorts in the work entitled Spit Law (1997, 254 x 528 cm). The printed passage of Leviticus that condemns men who have sex with each other runs down the center of the work. Images of magnified spit are shown against a red ground. This work makes a clear comment on the Biblical text quoted by some Christians to justify .

During 1997, Gilbert & George also created Spit Naked (226 x 317 cm). In this work, they are depicted in the same pose as Michelangelo's Pietà (1498-1499), superimposed against a ground of red. The point seems to be that the artists support each other because no one else will do it, including representatives of the contemporary Christian church. The red background symbolizes the violence shown against gay men and the very real threat of blood infected by the HIV virus.

The New Millennium

The artists continue to create gay-themed works in the new millennium. New Horny Pictures debuted at London's White Cube Gallery in 2001. This series of sixteen works addresses the controversial subject of the gay male escort business. The series consists of sixteen enlarged photographs of individual advertisements of men offering themselves for gay sex. Their gargantuan size not only makes visible the invisible, it forces viewers to recognize the nocturnal, urban environment they normally ignore.

Gilbert & George have often received very negative receptions from critics and the public alike. Nevertheless, they have been included in the most important biennial exhibitions, including Documenta (1972 and 1978), the Venice Biennale (1982), the Sydney Biennial (1984), and the Carnegie International (1985). Moreover, they were awarded London's Turner Prize in 1986 and they continue to exhibit their work around the globe.

Despite its widespread uneasiness about their subject matter, the art establishment has accepted Gilbert & George as artists crucial to contemporary times.

Ray Anne Lockard

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arts >> Overview:  Contemporary Art

Contemporary Art, which designates new currents in art since 1970, is identified with postmodernism; during this period an art addressing gay and lesbian identity emerged.

arts >> Overview:  European Art: Twentieth Century

A large number of significant twentieth-century European artists focused on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender themes, making such concerns crucial to the understanding of twentieth-century European art.

arts >> Overview:  Performance Art

Performance art has been embraced by queer artists as a means of challenging the very idea of traditional in art and culture.

arts >> Hockney, David

One of the liveliest and most versatile visual artists of his generation, David Hockney not only has helped break down resistance to the erotic gaze directed at the male body but also has presented gay male couples in domestic--rather than sensational or sexual--images.

arts >> Michelangelo Buonarroti

The most famous artist who ever lived, Michelangelo left an enormous legacy in sculpture, painting, drawing, architecture, and poetry; while the artist's sexual behavior cannot be documented, the homoerotic character of his drawings, letters, and poetry is unmistakable.


Eccher, Danilo. Gilbert & George. [Exhibition catalogue.] Milano: Charta, 1996.

Farson, Daniel. Gilbert & George: A Portrait. London: HarperCollins, 1999.

Gilbert & George. Gilbert et George. [Exhibition catalogue.] Paris: Paris-Muses; Arles: Diffusion, Actes sud, 1997.

Jahn, Wolf. The Art of Gilbert and George, or; An Aesthetic of Existence. London: Thames and Hudson, 1989.

Ratcliff, Carter. Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures, 1971-1985. [Exhibition catalogue.] London: South Bank Centre, 1986.

Richardson, Brenda. Gilbert and George. [Exhibition catalogue.] Baltimore, Md.: Baltimore Museum of Art, 1984.

Violette, Robert, ed. The Words of Gilbert and George; with Portraits of the Artists from 1968-1997. London: Violette Editions; New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 1997.


    Citation Information
    Author: Lockard, Ray Anne  
    Entry Title: Gilbert & George and George Passmore  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated February 13, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, inc.  


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