GILBERT & GEORGE (B. 1943 & B. 1942)
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GILBERT & GEORGE (B. 1943 & B. 1942)

Blood and Piss

Details
GILBERT & GEORGE (B. 1943 & B. 1942)
Blood and Piss
signed, titled and dated 'BLOOD AND PISS Gilbert and George 1996' (lower right)
hand-dyed gelatin silver prints in artist's frames, in fifteen parts
overall: 74 7/8 x 143 3/8in. (190 x 377cm.)
Executed in 1996 (15)
Provenance
Sonnabend Gallery, New York.
Private Collection, New York.
Literature
R. Fuchs (ed.), Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures 1971-2005, Volume 2 1988-2005, London 2007 (installation views illustrated in colour, pp. 659, 677 and 861; illustrated in colour, p. 868).
Exhibited
New York, Sonnabend Gallery and Lehmann Maupin, Gilbert & George, Fundamental Pictures 1996, 1997 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Stockholm, Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, Gilbert & George, 1997-1998, no. 14 (illustrated in colour).
Valencia, Drassanes, Gilbert & George 1986-1997, 1999.
Belfast, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Gilbert & George: Pictures 1991-1997, 1999.
Lisbon, Fundação Centro Cultural de Belém, The Art of Gilbert & George, 2002.
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 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Beatriz Ordovás
Beatriz Ordovás

Lot Essay

The work of Gilbert & George has always had at its core the merged corporeal presence of the artists; whether as the seminal Singing Sculpture from 1969 or as an inimitable cultural vector in London's East End. Blood and Piss is no exception: both men are visualised naked and upright, turning forward, perpendicular to the picture plane.

A continuous trajectory through their work has been the collapsing of the art/life dichotomy, or seeking to mediate each with aspects of the other. Whether using performance or image-based media, they have developed a single behavioural practice predicated on the aesthetic value of everyday reality.

Part of a body of work from 1996 entitled The Fundamental Pictures, Blood and Piss marks a move from a macroscopic to microscopic engagement with the human body as a locus of identity; a landscape of meaning defined by its biological elements. Magnified beyond recognition - other than perhaps to the trained scientific eye - the vocabulary of bodily fluids becomes an elemental, almost abstract, panorama of dazzling synthetic yellow and red, onto which the iconic figures of Gilbert & George are projected.

Bodily secretions are transformed into existential emblems, visual markers of the viscera of reality or life seen from the inside: 'The content of mankind is our subject and our inspiration. We stand each day for good traditions and necessary changes. We want to find and accept all the good and bad in ourselves. Civilisation has always depended for advancement on the giving person. We want to spill our blood, brains and seed in our life-search for new meanings and purpose to give to life'. (Gilbert & George, quoted in R. Violette and H. U. Obrist (eds.), The Words of Gilbert & George, London 1997, p. 291).

In using a geometric grid of panels to build up the visual structure Gilbert & George also tell us something about the nature of image making. Not simply a matter of compositional grammar, the unity of a single photographic image is shattered and replaced with a reconstructed image, theoretically decomposed and recomposed in space to allow for greater symbolic expression. The artifice of art making penetrating further into the truth of life, Blood and Piss is an altarpiece to a visionary cosmology. Vivid colours and imposing iconography are alchemically employed as symbols in an existential drama. Gilbert & George do not answer the questions to our daily dilemmas, but in refusing to be dominated illuminate the possibility of new semantic territories.

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