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Trading cards of some dangerous minds, deep thinkers & radical intellectuals

For those with an interest in big ideas, these trading cards from should fire up your neurotransmitters.

Between 2000-2001, a set of twelve trading cards was released monthly via David Gauntlett’s website This original set of cards featured theorists (and their concepts) from the world of social and cultural theory, gender and identity, and media studies. The first out of the pack was British social theorist Anthony Giddens who devised the theory of structuration and wrote the book on The Third Way. This was followed by theorist Judith Butler whose book Gender Trouble argued that “biological” sexes were just as much as a social construct as gender. Then came the great controversial French thinker Michel Foucault with his ideas about sexuality, gender and power structures. The deck included some interesting choices like artists Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George and concepts like Postmodernity and Psychoanalysis.

This official set of twelve trading cards was thought by some to lack a few key players and its release inspired various academics, students and alike to produce their own cards. These additions included Karl Marx, Carl Jung, Simone de Beauvoir, Edward Said, Germaine Greer, Walter Benjamin and Marcel Duchamp.

Described as “Creative knowledge you can put your pocket™” these cards can be used to play a game of trumps—in which players can match strengths, weaknesses and special skills. For example, Foucault’s special skill of happily rejecting old models and creating new ones, might not quite beat Duchamp’s ability to confuse the hell out of everyone.

The full set is below—but if you want to own a set of these super brainy trading cards (and who wouldn’t?) then deal yourself in by clicking here.
#1 Anthony Giddens—British social theorist.
#2 Judith Butler—American philosopher and gender theorist.
#3 Michel Foucault—French philosopher, theorist, philologist and literary critic.
More thinkers and some big ideas, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Gordon’s Gin makes Gilbert & George very, very drunk
12:59 pm


Gilbert and George
Gordon's Gin

Are Gilbert and George the Ralf und Florian of the visual arts world? As imperfect as that analogy may be, I’m sticking with it. In this 1972 short, titled Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk, Gilbert and George paid homage to their beloved gin & tonics. It conforms to a style one might call “high deadpan”: as sweeping music by Elgar and Grieg plays, the viewer is treated to a single static shot of G&G consuming several G&Ts in front of a stately window, presumably revealing a London thoroughfare; meanwhile the sentence “Gordon’s makes us drunk” is intoned many times (as time passes, the word “drunk” is modified by the word “very” and “very, very,” etc.—perhaps the number of times “very” is said correlates to the number of G&Ts they’ve consumed?).

In 1973, G&G published a multiple in an edition of 200 called “Reclining Drunk” that utilised melted down Gordon’s gin bottles. One of these will typically sell today for around $7000 at an art auction.

You have to admire the commitment to conceptual rigor here, not to mention to the glories of inebriation. (I love the touch of adding their names to the Gordon’s Gin label.) It might not exactly be as exciting as Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, but I like it.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Ten Commandments according to Gilbert & George
10:35 am


Gilbert and George

From the beginning Gilbert and George have always known what they were about. In fact they have always been keen to explain who they are and what exactly is the purpose and meaning of their art.

George Passmore was born in Plymouth in 1942, Gilbert Proesch was born in the Dolomites in Italy, in 1943. They met as students at St Martin’s School of Art, London in 1967, where they formed a partnership that has endured for more than four decades.

Their decision to work together (“two artists as one”) led to the publication of their first manifesto The Laws of Sculptors (1969) in Studio International, May 1970.

The manifesto is a short list of rules by which Gilbert and George have attempted to live their lives.

1. Always be smartly dressed, well groomed relaxed friendly polite and in complete control.
2. Make the world believe in you and to pay heavily for this privilege.
3. Never worry assess discuss or criticize but remain quiet respectful and calm.
4. The Lord chisels still, so don’t leave your bench for long.

Gilbert and George’s second manifesto Art For All (1970) was published in the same issue of Studio International, which gave a clear and succinct expression of their artistic ambitions:

We want Our Art to speak across the barriers of knowledge directly to People about their Life and not about their knowlegde of art. The 20th century has been cursed with an art that cannot be understood. The decadent artists stand for themselves and their chosen few, laughing and dismissing the normal outsider. We say that puzzling, obscure and form-obsessed art is decadent and a cruel denial of the Life of People.

  Progress Through Friendship

Our Art is the friendship between the viewer and our pictures. Each picture speaks of a ‘Particular View’ which the viewer may consider in the light of his own life. The true function of Art is to bring about new understanding, progress and advancement. Every single person on Earth agrees that there is room for improvement.

    Language For Meaning

We invented and we are constantly developing our own visual language. We want the most accessible modern form with which to create the most modern speaking visual pictures of our time. The art-material must be subservient to the meaning and purpose of the picture. Our reason for making pictures is to change people and not to congratulate them on being how they are.

    The Life Forces

True Art comes from three main life-forces. They are: - 

        THE HEAD
        THE SOUL
        and THE SEX

In our life these forces are shaking and moving themselves into ever changing different arrangements. Each one of our pictures is a frozen representation of one of these ‘arrangements’.

    The Whole

When a human-being gets up in the morning and decides what to do and where to go he is finding his reason or excuse to continue living. We as artists have only that to do. We want to learn to respect and honour ‘the whole’. The content of mankind is our subject and our inspiration. We stand each day for good traditions and necessary changes. We want to find and accept all the good and bad in ourselves. Civilisation has always depended for advancement on the ‘giving person’. We want to spill our blood, brains and seed in our life-search for new meanings and purpose to give to life.

In 1995, Gilbert and George synthesized their manifestoes into a personal X Commandments:

I Thou shalt fight conformism
II  Thou shalt be the messenger of freedoms
III  Thou shalt make use of sex
IV  Thou shalt reinvent life
V  Thou shalt grab the soul
VI  Thou shalt give thy love
VII  Thou shalt create artificial art
VIII Thou shalt have a sense of purpose
IX  Thou shalt not know exactly what thou dost, but thou shalt do it
X  Thou shalt give something back


Gilbert and George’s art is often hashtagged for its shock value, but that does a great disservice to the artists and the work. What is important about Gilbert & George (and what I like about them) is their ability to engage the viewer with intelligent, beautiful, often funny, powerful and inspiring works of art. It is almost impossible to look at one of Gilbert & George’s monumental paintings and not have some response.
In this interview with former-BBC cultural pundit Mark Lawson, Gilbert and George talk about their ideas about art, their life experiences and their exhibition The Urethra Postcard Pictures from 2011.

Gilbert & George in China after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘With two people, it’s very easy’: Making art with Gilbert and George
08:52 am


Gilbert and George
Tate Modern

It was love at first sight, George later said of his first meeting with Gilbert at Saint Martin’s Art School in 1967.

George said he was the only student who understood Gilbert’s Italian accent. Yet, it was more than just language, the pair complemented each other and were soon inseparable.

Gilbert believed they needed each other, as when the left St. Martin’s they were lost, they didn’t know how to start their artistic careers.

We were outsiders. We were regarded as some eccentrics who would do art that doesn’t fit in.

George thought that together they were stronger.

The lone artist has a problem because you have to ask questions. If you’re an artist painting a picture, he has to decide whether to have another cow in the corner, or not. And no answer comes back, of course.

With two people, it’s very easy. You ask the question, somebody gives the answer.

In 1969, Gilbert and George performed their first work of art as “Living Sculptures.” They stood on a raised stage and sang “Underneath the Arches,” an old music hall number made famous by the comedy double act Flanagan and Allen.

Over the next four decades, Gilbert and George produced a body of work that made the pair among the most iconic artists in the world.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the people involved in looking at our pictures are not collectors and would never think of being,” says George.

“They go to exhibitions of our work and buy catalogues and videos of us. When we say ‘Art for All’ we mean more an art which is addressing the issues that are inside us all of us.”

“An art,” says Gilbert, “that is not elitist, and that is not based on the inner circle of the art world; that ordinary people are able to come in and get something from.”

In 2007, Tate Modern curated a major retrospective of forty years of work by Gilbert and George. To tie in with the exhibition, the BBC made a documentary for its arts series Imagine called “Gilbert and George: No Surrender,” in which presenter Alan Yentob met with and interviewed the artists at home, in their studio, and in preparation for their show.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Gilbert and George: Living Sculptures

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Gilbert and George: Living Sculptures
Gilbert and George: Headline grabbing ‘London Pictures’ opens Hong Kong White Cube

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Jules Nurrish: Bend It Like Gilbert & George

Film-maker Jules Nurrish filmed and edited this homage to Gilbert and George’s dance sculpture Bend It. With Los Angeles-based performance artist and body builder, Heather Cassils and London-based performance artist and musician, Anat Ben David, who together perform their own version of the famous dance. Neat.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Gilbert and George: Headline grabbing ‘London Pictures’ opens Hong Kong White Cube

Gilbert and George Don’t Get Their C*cks Out Shock! might have been the appropriate headline for the latest Gilbert and George exhibition, at the new White Cube Gallery in Hong Kong. “London Pictures” sees the dynamic duo present a collection of paintings composed from tabloid headlines collated over the past 6 years. The result is a dark and unsettling portrait of life in the once swinging metropolis, where crime, fear, violence, vice and terrorism seem ubiquitous. In an interview with Euro News Gilbert explained the thinking behind their latest work:

“We feel we’re not trying to shock anything. This is the reality that we found in London. Because we didn’t invent this title. They are there.”

Then Gilbert and George alternately explained “London Pictures” in a series of sound-bites:

George: “We believe that everyone understands what is inside everybody which is death.”
Gilbert: ‘‘Hope.’‘
George: ‘‘Life.’‘
Gilbert: ‘‘Fear’‘
George: ‘‘Sex’‘
Gilbert: ‘‘Money’‘
George: ‘‘Race’‘
Gilbert: ‘‘Religion”
George: ‘‘We’re only dealing with the universal elements and we love to do that with people wherever they live.’‘

Though at first glance it appears there is little subtlety here, the grim austerity makes the paintings all the more effective. Our eyes are drawn to a series of highlighted words set against a background of net curtains and brick walls, there is little of the joy once found in Gilbert and George’s “piss” and “shit” paintings, or their beautiful and iconic portraits of young men. The emphasis on text reminds me of the clipped headline collages made by Kenneth Halliwell in the 1960s, in particular, his poster for Joe Orton’s play Loot. That said, there is nothing second-hand about “London Pictures”, it is a powerful exhibition and Gilbert and George have lost none of their bite, or wicked sense of humor - note how the Queen’s head (apparently lifted from the back of U.K. coinage) is stamped on each painting with a word relevant to each picture (“Killer”, “Rapist”, “Vice”, “Victim”, etc.) written above.

“London Pictures” is the inaugural exhibition at the Hong Kong White Cube Gallery, and Gilbert and George were chosen because of their global status as iconic status. White Cube director Graham Steele said:

“Because the pictures are difficult, these pictures are unrelenting. These pictures force you to spend time with them and they’re about our daily lives. They’re about the way in which individuals live in metropolitan areas. Gilbert and George are asking with these series, ‘is this the world that we live in?”

“London Pictures” runs until May 5th 2012 at Hong Kong’s White Cube.

For a more in depth interview with the fabulous duo, pop over to the White Cube Gallery site, where Tim Marlow talks to Gilbert and George.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Gilbert and George: Living Sculptures


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Gilbert and George: Living Sculptures

Perhaps best known for their brilliantly-colored, wall-sized paintings, artists Gilbert and George have been working together since they first met at St. Martin’s School of Art in London, 1967. The pair claim they became friends as George was the only person who could understand the Italian-born Gilbert’s poorly spoken English. “It was love at first sight,” they have since claimed. It was while they were students that Gilbert and George first devised their trademark performance art called Living Sculptures, where they wandered through the city streets covered in metallic make-up. The idea was to “collapse the distance between art and artists.”

In 1970, Gilbert and George developed this further and first performed their famous Singing Sculpture, at the Nigel Greenwood Gallery. Again coated in metallic make-up, the duo stood on a table and moved in robotic movement to comedy double-act, Flannagan and Allen’s 1930’s music hall song “Underneath the Arches” - about the homeless men who slept under railway arches during the Great Depression. Their show proved controversial and divided audiences, which is will no doubt happen with the pair’s latest show, The Urethra Postcard Art of Gilbert and George, which has just opened at the White Cube Gallery in London.

For this latest show, Gilbert and George have created 564 pieces of art from their personal collection of tourist postcards and telephone booth sex cards, advertising prostitutes’ services. Collecting the tourist postcards was easy, the call girl cards more difficult, as they explained to the Guardian:

The phonebox sex cards were trickier. When they saw one they liked – “Luke man 2 man horny fit lad 27 years” – they would dive in and grab it, but would then have to scour the area looking for 12 more. “Transexual Linda new in town” must have found business collapsing as all the ads within half a mile disappeared.

The prostitutes’ cards are a vanishing artform, along with the phoneboxes themselves – “almost fizzled out now,” George said mournfully.

The Urethra Postcard Art of Gilbert and George is at the White Cube until 19 February. And if you’re interested in contacting the pair, then you’ll find them under “artists” in London’s Yellow Pages.

This short documentary explains the background to Gilbert and George’s Living Sculptures, discussing their Singing Sculpture and how everything they do is a form of art.

More from Gilbert and George, including ‘Bend It’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment