© David Bordes
From July 3rd to August 26th the Fondation Louis Vuitton is presenting a rare complete work by Gilbert & George entitled “There Were Two Young Men” (April 1971). This six-part Charcoal on Paper Sculpture is part of the Foundation’s Collection and is one of a series of 13 sculptures done between 1970 and 1974, held today in different collections around the world.
Gilbert & George were born respectively in 1943 and 1942 in the Dolomites (Italy) and Devon (England). They live and work in London. Shortly after leaving Saint Martin’s School of Art, where they met in 1967, they began to make a name for themselves as two self-proclaimed “Living Sculptures” fused as a single artist.
From the early 1970s they staged everyday life as a visual material, creating assemblages of photographs, initially in black and white and subsequently in color. From the outset their art has embraced a widely disparaged figuration with the aim of creating “Beauty and Art for All”.
Gilbert & George’s art chooses a form that communicates directly with the viewer in a spirit of exchange, where individual emotions are felt at their most real to attain the universal. The monumental proportions of “There Were Two Young Men” suggests an immersive relationship with the viewer. The “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. Graphic intrusions – the title in capital letters, a handwritten limerick in upper and lowercase letters – add a further complexity, alluding to the realm of popular poetry and nursery rhymes.
The monumental “There Were Two Young Men” is presented alongside other works by Gilbert & George with similar inspiration, including “The Limericks” (1971) – also part of the Foundation’s Collection – and a “Postal Sculpture” in eight parts. The latter consists of illustrations taken from pictures of bomb sites, paths along the Thames and rural Suffolk, citing the same vernacular poetry texts as “There Were Two Young Men”. Also featured in the exhibition are “Nature Photo Piece” (1971), a composition of black and white photographs, and two contemporary “Video Sculptures”.
Fondation Louis Vuitton
8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi
Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 12am to 7pm / Friday from 12am to 9pm / Until 11pm on the first Friday of every month / Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 8pm / Closed on Tuesdays