This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

19Dec/17

GILBERT & GEORGE: THE BEARD PICTURES

Gilbert & George, “Vote Beard,” from “The Beard Pictures,” mixed media, 2016 (© Gilbert & George. Courtesy the artists and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong)

Gilbert & George, “Vote Beard,” from “The Beard Pictures,” mixed media, 2016 (© Gilbert & George. Courtesy the artists and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong)

Lehmann Maupin
536 West 22nd St. & 201 Chrystie St.
Through December 22, free
www.lehmannmaupin.com
www.gilbertandgeorge.co.uk

Things have gotten a bit hairy at Lehmann Maupin’s Lower East Side and Chelsea galleries. Turner Prize winners Gilbert & George are celebrating their fiftieth anniversary — Gilbert Prousch and George Passmore met at Saint Martin’s School of Art in September 1967 — with their latest series, monumental pictures of the longtime partners in red with unique items hanging from their chins, from leaves and historical figures to an anchor and a gate, furthering their dedication to “living sculpture” and “Art for All.” In most of the large-scale works, Gilbert & George, now in their mid-seventies, are physically joined, either holding hands, standing shoulder to shoulder, or connected via their beards, often surrounded by chain-link fences and barbed wire. The pictures bear such titles as “Bless This Beard,” “Beardblood,” “Beard Wars,” “Beard Honor,” “Fuck Off Hipsters,” “Vote Beard,” and “Tits & Dicks,” combining humor with fear as they take on sociopolitical mores. In his exhibition essay, Michael Bracewell writes, “Like scenes from some bizarre animated cartoon, the ‘Beard Pictures’ dominate and confound the viewer’s experience, as though alive upon the gallery wall — in the way that sacred, ritual, and ceremonial art of ancient civilizations can feel alive. A sleepless energy within the image, semi-occult, which derives from the beliefs and convictions of the artist-workers who created them. These crazy pictures tell visionary stories, housing spirits, seemingly: portent, suffering, acceptance, journeying, anger, mockery, humiliation, mischief; disappearance into a world of absurdist pageantry.” It is quite an absurdist pageantry, one only Gilbert & George could stage.

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