The English art collaborators Gilbert and George, known for their graphic photo works and for wearing dapper suits, have been on a more than 50-year “visionary and moral journey,” as they describe their creative practice. That journey has most recently led them back to their own doorstep, London, where they’ve been steadfastly working through the lockdowns.
For their latest body of work, going on view in the exhibition “New Normal Pictures” at Lehmann Maupin in New York on September 9, the pair combines seemingly prosaic scenes of London life with jolts of day-glo color.
We spoke with the duo about where they’ve been finding inspiration lately and how they’ve managed to stay busy during this period of upheaval (hint: it involves champagne).
What are the most indispensable items in your studio and why?
Our brains, our souls, and our sex.
Is there a picture you can send of your work in progress?
What is the studio task on your agenda tomorrow that you are most looking forward to?
Signing thousands of posters and catalogues in preparation for our Lehmann Maupin New York exhibition of “New Normal Pictures.”
What kind of atmosphere do you prefer when you work? Do you listen to music or podcasts, or do you prefer silence? Why?
The Cosmic Void is our ideal studio. Music is against our religion.
What trait do you most admire in a work of art? What trait do you most despise?
We admire works of art that have something to say for themselves with great visual/human power. We despise willfully obscure art that looks down its nose at the lovely viewers.
What snack food could your studio not function without?
No snacks—only champagne.
Who are your favorite artists, curators, or other thinkers to follow on social media right now?
As always, Darwin, Alan Turing, and Charles Dickens.
When you feel stuck in the studio, what do you do to get un-stuck?
We are never stuck. Rather, we are always bursting with more pictures than we will ever be able to create.
What is the last exhibition you saw (virtual or otherwise) that made an impression on you?
A display of art at the studio of that great, yet-to-emerge artist Oliver Hemsley.
If you had to put together a mood board, what would be on it right now?
Expectations, hope, desire, and determinations.