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    Sale 7738

    Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction

    30 June 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 34

    Gilbert & George (b. 1943 & b. 1942)


    Price Realised  


    Gilbert & George (b. 1943 & b. 1942)
    signed, titled and dated 'Spitalfields Gilbert and George 1980' (lower right); signed and titled again and consecutively numbered 1-16/16 'GILBERT + GEORGE SPITALFIELDS' (on the reverse of each panel)
    sixteen black and white photographs in artist frames
    each: 23½ x 19 3/8in. (59.7 x 49.2cm.)
    overall: 96 x 80in. (243.8 x 203.2cm.)
    Executed in 1980

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    Spitalfields dates from 1980, one of the most productive years of Gilbert and George's career, and shows a view of the East London area in which they made their home over four decades ago when they moved into Fournier Street, where they remain to this day. Over the years, their works have often observed and commented upon the gradual change of character in the Spitalfields area, which has in more recent memory been transformed, becoming an important hub for the contemporary art scene; when they moved there in the 1960s, by contrast, it was exciting, rough and, most importantly for the then-struggling artists, cheap. Before its regeneration and rebirth, the East End provided the artists with an ideal vantage point from which to view and record the discontent that was so rife in the streets of newly-Thatcherite Britain, and this they recorded in both their portraits of various youths and in their landscape works such as Spitalfields. This work combines a haunting sense of the decline of the city and at the same time an intimacy, a charmed familiarity and a Romanticism, focussing as it does on the tree and its branches, which snake across its surface. This is their home, the area that they love, the place where they have created their elaborate daily rituals, often eating in the same cafes that they have visited since first moving to the area.

    As self-proclaimed 'living sculptures,' Gilbert and George have often made a point of capturing their own acts and their surroundings in photographs, immortalising their own lifestyle, which was equally their artistic output. It is telling that, in the year that Spitalfields was created, they also produced a film, The World of Gilbert and George, capturing their unique universe in celluloid while also recording the atmosphere of the age. Spitalfields clearly shows a part of the urban backdrop to the performed existence of Gilbert and George; this picture is therefore a facet of that continuing, living work and acts as a marker within the personal mythology that they have created over the years.

    Special Notice

    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London.
    Private Collection, New York.
    Anon. sale, Sotheby's New York, 18 May 2000, lot 170.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.


    R. Fuchs (ed.), Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures 1971-2005, Volume 1 1971-1988, London 2007 (illustrated, p. 358).


    London, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, Gilbert & George: Modern Fears, 1980.
    Eindhoven, Van Abbemuseum, Gilbert & George, November 1980 (illustrated, p. 296). This exhibition later travelled to Dusseldorf, Kunsthalle, January 1981; Paris, Musée national d'Art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, April 1981 and London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, July 1981.
    Bordeaux, CAPC Musée d'Art contemporain, Gilbert & George, The Complete Pictures 1971-1985, May-September 1986 (illustrated, p. 134). This exhibition later travelled to Basel, Kunsthalle, September-November 1986; Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, November 1986-January 1987; Madrid, Palacio de Velázquez, Parque del Retiro, February-March 1987; Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, April-June 1987 and London, Hayward Gallery, July-September 1987.