Gilbert and George labelled themselves “living sculptures” when they began working in the late 1960’s. The artists’ career, while they have maintained that they are sculptors, is arguably an ongoing performance, with the artists adopting a very specific, high-class style of dress and affect, and creating works predominantly about themselves almost exclusively in the form of drawings, photo-works and printed text art. The work often contains shocking or disgusting subject matter which is in jarring contrast to the very proper mannerisms of the duo.
The artists’ home studio is extremely clean – partly because the high-tech, large scale industrial printing equipment that they use in many of their works must be kept clean and in working order. However the cleanliness extends to all areas of the studio and could be interpreted as a part of the Gilbert and George persona. In their studio, the pair keep a photographic archive of all previous works – which must be quite extensive as the duo have been in the art business for nearly 50 years! They also reportedly have kept and preserved invitations to every party they’ve ever gone to. While often working with photos and text, Gilbert and George are also known for their charcoal drawings, and painted accents on photographic works, so their studio must have a few traditional art materials.
The duo’s primary body of work is collectively called “The Pictures,” and is composed of many black and white photographic works, which later were painted with coloured accents and even later printed with colours. In 2007, a book of all the pictures was published, containing over 1000 artworks.