Wilson: And you call the suits that you wear “Responsibility Suits.”
George: They are our working clothes. We do believe that we can speak through how we cloth ourselves, as well as through how we do our pictures. It is very important part of our democratic idea. We can go anywhere, and be in any situation, after all we never wanted to be the freaky artists in that bohemian way. They are very typical, normal suits.
Gilbert: The day we said that we are the living sculpture, that was it. Art and life became one, and we were the messengers of a new vision. At that moment that we decided we are art and life, every conversation with people became art, and still is. It becomes like some object speaking. Normally sculptures are completely dead. But we are living ones. Speaking ones, complex ones, unhappy ones. That is a fantastic difference. I think that was a big breakthrough for us. That’s what the basis of it all is: Art and Life. That is the title of our Art. Excerpts from Andrew Wilsons’s interview with Gilbert and George, Journal of Contemporary Art.
Gilbert and George have last names (Proesch and Passmore), but for the past 45 years have been operating surnameless and as one person, one artist, one “living sculpture.”
The look-alike personal style they’ve affected, a robotic blandness, has probably had something to do with this; they are certainly no one’s idea of a glamour couple. And their sleek, photo-based, politically incorrect across-the-spectrum art is as hard to love as it is to categorize. Even if you appreciate it, you may prefer not to spend time with it.
Then there’s the perversity factor. They have a funky sense of beauty and an appetite for unsightly things, things most people come to art museums not to see. Holland Cotter, “Provocative Dual: Natty and Naked,” New York Times.
With Gilbert and George clothes are more instrumental than aesthetic. The two use conservative attire like suits strategically in their art. There’s a striking contrast between their conservative dress and the social statements they make on subjects such as the urban crime, decaying London, profanity, consumerism, and other subjects. At times the conservative dress complements the social statements, at times it provides a counterpoint, especially when the suits are painted over or decorated in ways to suit the subject of their “living sculptures.”