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Notations: Gilbert and George

May 2–November 2, 2008

From the outset of their joint career, Gilbert (British, born 1943) and George (British, born 1942) explored and redefined picture making while bridging the gap between art and life. Dressed in suits and often displaying decorous manners, the duo presents an image at odds with the brutal sincerity with which they expose their deepest desires and fears. Documenting the reality of daily existence through the lens of their unique sensibility, the artists present a poignant and all-embracing vision of life where marginality and isolation, unhappiness and despair, nature and urban beauty are tenderly revealed. This presentation of large-scale pictures by Gilbert & George traces their stylistic departure from austere black and white and monochromatic compositions of the 1970s to the bolder clashes of images and colors in the 1980s. Constantly aware of the changes in the social and political climate, Gilbert and George address head-on the burning issues of our times—be it social marginality, religion, the AIDS crisis or multiculturalism—while at the same time defining a unique visual language. The quotations that unfold around the gallery space are by Gilbert & George, and their words address the viewer as directly and uncompromisingly as does their art. A comprehensive exhibition of the work of Gilbert & George organized by Tate Modern in London is currently traveling in the United States. Its final venue will be the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, where it will be on view October 3, 2008, through January 11, 2009.


"Notations" is an ongoing series of gallery installations named after the 1968 book by American composer, writer, and visual artist John Cage (1912–1992), who was widely celebrated for his experimental approach to the arts. Cage's Notations was an international and interdisciplinary anthology of scores by avant-garde musicians, with contributions from visual artists and writers. At the same time, it was an exhibition in book form, in which the scores doubled as drawings. This "Notations" series serves as a flexible tool to explore contemporary art in the Museum's expanding collection, allowing for experimentation with various exhibition alternatives.

Main Building


Carlos Basualdo • Curator of Contemporary Art
Adelina Vlas • Assistant Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art

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