A February interview with the duo, Gilbert Prousch, 76, and George Passmore, 78, made reference to the highly publicized show they thought was offered. But only a few days later, after learning that this would not happen, they resigned as academicians, which has not happened since 2005, when Peter Blake allegedly resigned to protest the expulsion of his friend Brendan Neiland, the former director of AR. school.London representatives of Gilbert and George at the White Cube gallery were approached for comment, but did not do so.
Gilbert and George, who were praised for a fertile creative phase during the lockout, were elected to the academy in 2017 only. It was a decision, voted by the other academicians, which caused a sensation, not only because the duo is infamous. , but also because they were the first artists in 250 years of the institution to be officially admitted as a single entity, with a single vote allocated to them.
The RA, founded by King George III, was created in 1768 by a group comprising artists from the Joshua Reynolds Society and Angelica Kauffman. Becoming a royal academician is always considered a key sign of recognition within the artistic community.
But Gilbert and George, who have been working on conceptual and visual projects from their home in east London since the late 1960s, resigned in late February to protest AR’s management of the expected exhibition .
Speaking to Standard Evening newspaper in February, they mentioned the broadcast at RA’s Burlington House headquarters as a future highlight. “It is extraordinary that we have been able to risk extreme works of art for 40 years,” said Prousch. “You have to be a stranger to make art, you can’t be normal. ”
An AR spokesperson told the Observer that the resignation of Gilbert and George was regrettable. Not all academics can have an exhibit, she added, and RA is forced to decide who to show and when.
Speaking this weekend, an anonymous academician said the situation was unfortunate, and Gilbert and George “shouldn’t have just assumed they were going to be given a show.” But an admirer of their work, aware of the brewing dispute, felt responsible for AR, and the issue of giving them a show had been mismanaged.
There are currently 77 royal academicians. They must be artists or architects under the age of 75, and there are never more than 80. When they reach 76, they become senior academicians and replacements are elected after a long nomination process.
Artists Jane and Louise Wilson were the second duo and the first twins to jointly become Royal Academicians.
Prousch, born in Italian Tyrol and who studied art in Germany before coming to England, met Passmore in 1967 while studying at the prestigious St Martins School of Art in London. Since then, they have happily broken taboos, keeping a veil of mystery about the nature of their family relationship until they celebrated a civil partnership in 2008.
During the lockdown, they started an online video journal, posting weekly updates on life in their new limited circumstances. Newsletters, often short films, were the continuation of their usual creative habit of documenting social change. Their work, which covered the skinhead movement, the infatuation of young people for the consumption of nitrous oxide and the Brexit campaign, has often pushed against the shared liberal attitudes of the artistic community at large.
Last month, the two men confused critics of their conservative political allegiances when they donated artwork for sale as dinnerware to raise funds for a social enterprise run near their home of 50 years on rue Fournier.
The Royal Academy
AR has often been at the center of creative battles, in fact, that’s almost its goal. In February 1790, after a dispute over the appointment of Italian architect Giuseppe Bonomi as a professor of perspective, one of the founders of RA, Reynolds, resigned both as president and as an academician.
And on the eve of the annual summer exhibition of 1832, JMW Turner would have opposed his seascape Hellfoot locks to be hung next to JColorful painting by M Constable The opening of the Waterloo bridge. To avoid being behind the scenes, he retaliated by coating his canvas with a bright red dot, later disguised as a buoy. When the police officer saw him, he reportedly said, “He came here and fired a gun.” The incident is featured in the 2014 Mike Leigh film Mr. Turner.
When in 1997 the former president of RA, Norman Rosenthal, decided to display 110 works belonging to the collector Charles Saatchi in the contemporary exhibition Sensation, this provoked the anger of some academicians. Myra Hindley’s large portrait of Marcus Harvey’s “murderer of the moors”, depicted on children’s handprints, was enough to push the acclaimed colourist Gillian Ayres to resign.