Gilbert & George are some of today’s most influential artists. Based in London’s East End, they have been two people but one artist since the 1960s. Creating their pictures in large scale, they have been composing images of our times and the western urban townscape changing around them. From the beginning, they wanted to communicate beyond the narrow confines of the art world, adopting the slogan ‘Art for All.’ They create each picture from many images that are superimposed in their studio. The subjects are taken against a black background and then the images are hand-colored.
For the High Line, Gilbert & George will present Waking (1984), an image populated by the young that represent the primal life forces at their most formative and explosive stages. Originally 36 feet long, the image shows the artists occupying the center of a symmetrical and intensely colored multi-figure composition. Around them is an assembled cast of youngsters. The artists – their faces transformed into masks by overlaid color – evoke a kind of inner awakening, perhaps the passage from boyhood to manhood, which the hierarchy of the three figures seems to suggest.
Photo by Timothy Schenck.