Art in the City: Gentlemen, please!

05/09/2007 12:00 AM |

Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures, 1971-2000
Viewing or purchase ($72) at Aperture

Known for their images of sex, smut and bodily secretions, British duo Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore make, oddly, a most dapper pair. The two sixty-something year-olds, whose tailored suits and prim comportment belie the unchaste subject matter of their work, have been living their curious art — they claim to make no distinction between it and their daily lives — for 40 years now. To commemorate the anniversary, they’ve published a 20-pound, two-volume tome to go along with a massive traveling retrospective that started at London’s Tate gallery earlier this year. The pair gained notoriety in 1969 when they were not invited to participate in an important contemporary art exhibition and so arrived at the opening covered in gold paint to sing and dance — and steal the show with their pioneering act of performance art. In the decades that followed this splashy art world entrée, they developed a lexicon of imagery based around themes of sex, crime, religion (especially Christianity and Islam) — and themselves. In Naked, from the photomontage series Shitty Naked Human World, the two middle-aged men let everything hang out of their tighty whities as they pose beside giant phallic turds. Intrigued? The retrospective graces the Brooklyn Museum (a place well accustomed to the intersection of shit and Christian iconography) in October 2008.