The odd couple living in the house on Fournier Street in London’s Spitalfields are about to have their first major retrospective at Tate Modern. Perhaps you should say formal retrospective, because since transforming their lives into works of art and becoming Living Sculptures in 1970, it’s been one continual exhibition. The Six Bomb pictures, created specially for the show out of Evening Standard posters, will no doubt connect with the media in the same way that controversies around works such as, say, the Naked Shit pictures have. Yet Gilbert and George will equally probably manage to transcend the inanities of the Sunday supplements. To accompany the show – the largest yet staged by Tate Modern – there will, of course, be a catalogue. But there will also be a two-volume compendium of works created by Gilbert and George, including every image made between 1976 and the present. The pair have been working on the volumes for a few years, designing the books themselves. They even got closely involved with the printing process, working with Beacon Press to ensure that the colour was exactly how they wanted it. There have been few more graphically astute artists (other than perhaps Andy Warhol), and the simple, more or less text-free landscape format lets their art do all the work. The volumes come in a box (also designed by Gilbert and George) that doubles as a suitcase, or perhaps a diptych, to be carried by a modern-day monk or nun.
Gilbert and George: The Complete Pictures Volumes 1 and 2 is published by Tate Publishing, price £39. The retrospective runs until 7 May at Tate Modern, Millbank, London SW1