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Smoke Rising1989

‘Smoke Rising’, 1989, by Gilbert & George, is one of a group of works entitled ‘The Cosmological Pictures’ which toured all over Europe in that year of turbulent change. The works explore the psyche and life of modern man in a unique manner, which is more in line with the realism of Gothic art and Van Gogh, than the ideals of beauty and ‘decorum’ associated with Renaissance art. Using themselves as ‘living sculptures’, Gilbert & George confront the viewer with issues in a manner intended to open up a dialogue: “We don’t like the idea of art-for-art’s-sake. We like the idea of art-for-life’s-sake…we are searching for meaning in life and trying to discuss it with the viewer who is in front of our pictures”.* The bold, provocative style of their work, combined with high seriousness, has in spite of harsh criticism, achieved international popularity. The work touches upon sentiments and feelings that lie deep in human consciousness although they are treated in a simultaneously comic and abrasive way. *Extract from interview with Gerald Davis, The Arts Show, RTÉ Radio, September 1992.

MediumMixed media, 32 panels
Dimensions Unframed, 338 x 568 cm
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Purchase, 1993
Item NumberIMMA.425
Copyright For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].
Image Caption
GILBERT & GEORGE, Smoke Rising, 1989, Mixed media, 32 panels, Unframed, 338 x 568 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 1993

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].

About the Artist


Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore met as students at St. Martin’s School of Art, London. They soon began to create art and exhibit together. Using themselves as 'living sculptures', GILBERT & GEORGE explore the psyche and life of modern man. Promoting the idea of ‘art for all’, the provocative style of their work has achieved international popularity. GILBERT & GEORGE have won numerous awards, including the Turner Prize in 1986. They represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2005.

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