Gilbert & George, Gilbert Proesch, George Passmore. Live's. 1984
  • Not on view

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Gilbert & George were among the artists creating alternatives to traditional painting and sculpture. Donning conservative business suits, they became "living sculpture," giving performances and generally considering everything they did to be an artwork. They often poke fun at proper behavior in a deadpan fashion and include references to drunkenness, sexuality, and other bodily functions.

Gallery label from Multiplex: Directions in Art, 1970 to Now, November 21, 2007-July 28, 2008.

In tailored suits and polished brogues, the artist duo Gilbert & George stares out of this artwork like mannequins from a shopwindow. They have placed themselves as saints or sinners in the center of their own universe; a chorus of casually dressed young men sporting red shirts, blue jeans, and yellow shoes are arrayed behind them like modern-day apostles. Incorporating bold, black outlines that frame each figure and wide panes of primary colors reminiscent of stained glass windows, Live’s functions in the straightforward graphic language of advertising. Gilbert & George came into prominence in 1969 while Proesch and Passmore were students at London’s St. Martin's School of Art. The two artists have appeared together in all their artistic productions (including drawings, photographs, installations, videos, and performances), dissolving the traditional boundaries between artist and artwork. Their identities are inseparable from their work: "To be with art is all we ask," they have proclaimed.

Gallery label from 2013.

In tailored suits and polished brogues, the artist duo Gilbert & George stare out of this artwork like mannequins from a shop window. They have placed themselves as saints or sinners in the center of their own universe; a chorus of casually dressed young men sporting red shirts, blue jeans, and yellow shoes are arrayed behind them like modern-day apostles. Incorporating bold black outlines that frame each figure and wide panes of primary colors reminiscent of stained glass windows, Live's functions in the straightforward graphic language of advertising. The work is constructed from twenty-eight separate photographs hand-colored with inks and dyes and embellished with aluminum foil. Gilbert and George came into prominence in 1969 while Proesch and Passmore were students at London’s St. Martin’s School of Art. In an attempt to create art that was accessible to a general audience, they developed a simple, robotic song–and–dance routine to the music-hall tune "Underneath the Arches," which they went on to perform as "living sculptures" to mesmerized audiences throughout Europe and the United States. From that point on, the two artists — dressed in their signature style — have appeared together in all their artistic productions (including drawings, photographs, installations, videos, and performances), dissolving the traditional boundaries between artist and artwork. Their identities are inseparable from their work: "To be with art is all we ask," they have proclaimed.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, p. 53.
Medium
Black and white photographs, hand-colored with ink and dyes, and aluminum foil, mounted and framed
Dimensions
Overall 7' 11 1/2" x 11' 7" (242.7 x 353 cm), each panel frame 23 7/8 x 19 7/8" (60.5 x 50.5 cm)
Credit
Given anonymously
Object number
130.1985.a-bb
Copyright
© 2019 Gilbert & George
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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