Saturday, 19 January 2013

Gilbert & George - Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk

Gilbert Proesch (sometimes referred to as Gilbert Prousch, born 17 September 1943 in San Martin de Tor, Italy) and George Passmore (born 8 January 1942 in Plymouth, United Kingdom) are two artists who work together as a collaborative duo called Gilbert & George. They are known for their distinctive and highly formal appearance and manner and also for their brightly coloured graphic-style photo-based artworks.

Gin and tonic became Gilbert and George's drink of choice in 1971. They picked Gordon's because it was 'the best gin'. For this film, they have added their names to the bottle's label, on either side of the Royal crest. The artists are shown seated at a table, getting drunk to a soundtrack of Elgar and Grieg. Their deadpan expressions and repeated declaration that 'Gordon's makes us very drunk' creates an absurd scene that ironically questions identity, nationality and 'good behaviour'.

In 1974, Tate employees, including Anne d'Offay, wife of the influential art dealer Anthony d'Offay, entertained the pair with a lunchtime binge. The artists drank "the majority" of three bottles of wine and 12 glasses of vintage port. The corresponding expense claim, 8 per cent of the Tate's annual budget for entertaining, angered senior figures at the gallery.

The 1974 meal's total bill was £31.27 (nearly £300 today). According to Tate curator Richard Morphet, the majority of the alcohol was consumed by the artists. "The lunch took place in order that we [three curators] could extract catalogue information from Gilbert and George under circumstances most likely to produce results, as these artists are well-known for their un-forthcoming response to enquiries about their work," added Mrs d'Offay.

"I should make it clear from the outset that this is not the normal way in which we go about cataloguing the collection," said Mrs d'Offay.
Rob Sharp

Big Gilbert & George fan here, and have been for years.
Seen a number of their exhibitions and have three framed and signed exhibition posters hanging here in the house - always make me smile.
I've always found them highly entertaining in interviews too. Hope you enjoyed meeting them.
I remember seeing Gordon's Makes us Drunk for the first time in the Tate and just laughing for ages. Thanks for posting the link to it here and giving me the giggles all over again!

‘Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk’ was recorded in the front room of ‘Art for All’, 12 Fournier Street, London E1 in the summer of 1972.

The sculptors were conscious that the tape was to a certain extent like a television commercial. The opening sequence was motivated in part by their wish to make a ‘super still life’.

Gin and tonic became the sculptors’ drink in 1971 and Gordon’s gin was selected because it is in their opinion ‘the best gin’. Furthermore, since Gordon’s supply gin to H.M. the Queen by appointment, the label conveniently bears the royal coat-of-arms, to which Gilbert and George have added their names in the manner to which they have been accustomed since their first printed pieces were made.

The music which accompanies the opening sequence of the video tape is part of Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance No.1, in D, Op.39. Appropriately regal, the music has been used in a television commercial, but the sculptors were not aware of it. However, ‘Morning’ (from Peer Gynt Suite No.1) by Edvard Grieg, which follows, was chosen because it had been played in Song of Norway, a film based on the composer’s life, which the sculptors had seen at the Cinerama cinema in Old Compton Street. They had also heard it as the sound track for a tea or coffee commercial.

The voice of George which is heard repeating ‘Gordon’s makes us drunk’, ‘very drunk’, and so forth, was dubbed on afterwards, as were the pieces of music.

Before shooting began, Gilbert and George sought the assistance of neighbours to prevent passers-by from stopping in the street outside the window of ‘Art for All’ and staring at the camera during the recording.
Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975. 

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