Date From
Date To
Admission fees

Ben Brown Fine Arts is thrilled to present an extraordinary group of pictures by famed British artists Gilbert & George at the London gallery, exhibited together for the first time from a prominent private collection. After meeting at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London in 1967, Gilbert & George have been creating art together ever since, fully integrating all aspects of their lives into their art, making themselves ‘living sculptures’. They reflect upon their revelation to create together over 50 years ago, “Art and life became one, and we were the messengers of a new vision. At that moment that we decided we are art and life, every conversation with people became art, and still is.”


Gilbert  &  George’s  early  art  centered  around  Living Sculptures  and  evolved  into  video,  drawing, and picture making, typically inserting themselves into their art.  They take an anti-elitist stance to art and embrace the credo “Art for All”, as their art confront issues of social injustices, urban turmoil, politics, sex, religion, racism, patriotism and mortality.  The East End of London – where they have been firmly rooted since 1967 and can be seen strolling the streets in their suits as they lead an ascetic lifestyle – serves as a filter and subject matter for much of their art.


Gilbert & George are most renowned for their large-scale artworks, collectively known as “The Pictures”.  In the 1970s they began creating pictures of black and white images, soon arranging them  into  grid-like  structures;  by  1974  they  incorporated  red  into  their  pictures;  in  the 1980s  they introduced  other  bright  colours  into  their  repertoire  and  adopted  a  more stylized  and  graphic  appearance  in  their  pictures; and  by the beginning of the 21st century  fully  embraced  digital  technology  in  their creativity.


Cock,  1977,  is  one  of  26  of their notorious  Dirty  Words  Pictures,  which juxtaposed  obscene  words  found  in  street  graffiti  with disconcerting  images  of  urban  unrest  and inequity, and was part of an important exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries in 2002.  Many works from the series are held in prestigious museum collections such Cunt Scum in Tate, London; Angry in Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo; Are You Angry Or Are You Boring? in Stedelijk Van Abbesmuseum, Eindhoven; Cunt in Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Fuck in Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg; Queer in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam and Suck in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  Toast, 1973, is an equally  rare  and  iconic  early artwork,  comprised  of  a  zig  zag  arrangement  of  slightly  blurred  black  and white images of Gilbert and George drinking, as part of a group of pictures meant to evoke inebriation and explore the role of alcohol in the  lives of artists. George commented on this series, “We could see that all the other artists were drinking, but during the day they painted a nice grey square with a yellow line down the side. We thought that was completely fake. Why shouldn't all of life come into your art? The artists drink, but they do sober pictures. So we did drinking sculptures, true to life.”


Street Meet, 1982, demonstrating the riot of colour that erupted in their pictures of the 1980s, comes from a series of images depicting young men in staged, theatrical poses, casting them as ‘living sculptures’. Three, 1984, is a similarly  vibrant  image  of  East  End  youths,  poignantly and  hauntingly  depicted  in  a  classical arrangement. George explained that these portraits were meant to counter negative stereotypes, particularly  of  an  art  world  who  “couldn’t  handle  works  of  modern  art  showing  young  people  from neighbourhoods  where  they  themselves  didn’t  want  to  live,  where  they  wouldn’t  even  choose  to  go .” Gilbert professed, “When using models, we devoted all our power to making them totally beautiful.”


The exhibition also includes four dynamic “Postcard Art” pictures, a body of artwork commenced in the 1970s and  revisited  again  in  2009,  in which  Gilbert  &  George  assembled  postcards  in  kaleidoscopic  grid arrangements, grouped by both subject matter and formal qualities. Most of the postcards used dated from before or shortly after the Great War of 1914 –18; some were in bright colours and others monochrome. New York Times art critic Roberta Smith  noted,  “Modest yet  seminal, the  postcard pieces  show  the  artists’  progress  from  witty  nostalgia to seemingly random scrapbook-like arrangements to increasingly striking fusions of form and meaning.”  Mother and Black Mare, both 1981, come from a series of images of the Royal Family arranged in the formation of  a  cross,  while  London  Town  and  State  Coach,  both  2009, are  comprised  of  postcards,  flyers  and telephone box cards arranged in a rectangle with a single card in the center, referencing a sexual symbol utilized by theosophist C. W. Leadbetter.


We encourage you to explore this trove of seminal art by Gilbert & George, ranging from the 1970s to 2009, that demonstrate the radically pioneering contributions these inimitable artists have made to 20th and 21st century art.