Paris, 12 June 2019
GILBERT & GEORGE
There Were Two Young Men
A six-part Charcoal on Paper Sculpture
3rd July– 26th August 2019, Gallery 2
From 3rd July to 26th August 2019, the Fondation Louis Vuitton will present a rare and complete six-part Charcoal On Paper Sculpture by Gilbert & George, “There Were Two Young Men” (April 1971), which belongs to the Fondation’s collection. This work, which will be exhibited in Gallery 2, was first shown in 1971 at the Sperone Gallery in Turin. It is one of the 13 different Charcoal On Paper Sculptures, created between 1970 and 1974, and now scattered around the word.
Thanks to its monumental proportions, “There Were Two Young Men” suggests an immersive relationship with the viewer. This “sculpture” depicts two protagonists – the artists – in a bucolic environment whose hedonism is tinged with melancholy. They seem to be conversing quietly, leaning on a tree, in the spirit of neo-romantic British landscape painting. The graphic intrusions, in each part of the “sculpture”, from the title in capitals which acts as a baseline, to a handwritten limerick in upper and lowercase letters, adds a further complexity, alluding to the universe of popular poetry and nursery rhymes.
“There Were Two Young Men” is presented alongside other works by Gilbert & George created from a similar inspiration, such as “The Limericks” (1971) – also in the Fondation’s Collection – a ’Postal Sculpture’in eight parts whose illustrations have been taken from pictures of bomb sites, paths beside the Thames or rural Suffolk, while citing the same texts of vernacular poetry as “There Were Two Young Men”. Respecting the desire of the artists, “Nature Photo Piece” (1971), a composition of black-and-white pictures features in the exhibition, as well as two contemporary ’Video Sculptures’.
The entirety of this presentation has been conceived in close collaboration with the artists, who were fully involved both in the exhibition and in the layout of the catalogue.
Gilbert & George
Born in 1943 and 1942, in the Dolomites (Italy) and Devon (England), they live and work in London (UK).
Shortly after leaving Saint Martin’s School of Art, where they met in 1967, Gilbert & George came to recognition by becoming “Living Sculpture”. Dressed in plain suits, their faces emotionless and coated in multi-coloured metalized powder, they sang a 1930s song about the disenfranchised “Underneath the Arches”. From the beginning the artists chose to stand out from the formalist, conceptual artistic context of the period, by choosing a figurative language. From a staging of everyday life (walking, singing, reading, drinking), they derive a visual material which they have been exploiting since the early 1970s in pictures, firstly black and white, then in colour. Right from the start, their art bears testimony to the consistency of their position, favouring a figuration which was disparaged along with another characteristic feature of their art, the ambition to create Beauty and Art for All. Another constant in Gilbert & George’s art is the choice of a form that communicates directly, in a spirit of exchange with the viewer, in which individual emotions are felt at their most real and achieve the universal.
→ An in-conversation event between the artists and Hans Ulrich Obrist will take place on 2nd July 2019 at 7pm in the auditorium.
NOTES TO EDITORS
“Gilbert & George. There Were Two Young Men, April 1971” is showing in parallel to the exhibition “The Collection of the Fondation. A Vision for Painting” which brings together a selection of 70 pieces from the Collection produced by 23 international artists, from the 60s to now, using the pictorial medium, here dealt with in all its diversity: figurative or abstract, expressive or distanced. This fresh partial presentation of the entire work in the Collection echoes with the exhibition of the Courtauld Collection (20th February – 17th June 2019).
Since its inauguration in 2014, the Fondation regularly exhibits a selection of the works in its Collection. The first shows were conceived around the expressive lines chosen to structure the Collection: Contemplative line, expressive line, popist line, music/sound line (2014/2016).
These series were then displayed in the context of specific events dedicated to China (2016) and Africa (2017). Finally, the collection has been approached along a thematic axis, examining the place of Mankind in the living world in the exhibition “In Tune with the World” (2018).