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Gilbert & George ('IN THE PISS')

© Gilbert & George

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Gilbert & George ('IN THE PISS')

by Gilbert & George
photo-piece of nine panels, 1997
89 in. x 74 3/4 in. (2260 mm x 1900 mm)
Purchased, 1999
Primary Collection
NPG 6489

Sitterback to top

  • Gilbert & George (1943-; 1942-), Artists. Sitter in 14 portraits, Artist of 1 portrait.

Artistback to top

  • Gilbert & George (1943-; 1942-), Artists. Artist of 1 portrait, Sitter in 14 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Gilbert & George use themselves and their surroundings in their work whose aim is to 'take the language of art near to total taboo'. IN THE PISS is part of a series entitled New Testamental Pictures, combining microscope images of bodily excretions with naked self-portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Howgate, Sarah; Nairne, Sandy, A Guide to Contemporary Portraits, 2009, p. 23 Read entry

    Gilbert and George use themselves and their surroundings in their work, the aim of which is to ‘take the language of art near to total taboo’. This uncompromising full-length double portrait shows them naked but for Gilbert’s watch and George’s glasses. They stand before an abstract backdrop derived from a microscopic sample of their own urine; they are literally ‘In the Piss’, as the title of the work implies. This work of 1997 is part of a series, the New Testamental Pictures, all of which combine images of bodily excretions with naked portraits of this artistic partnership.

  • Rideal, Liz, Insights: Self-portraits, 2005, p. 45 Read entry

    Naked but for Gilbert’s watch and George’s glasses, the two men stand before an abstract backdrop derived from a microscopic sample of their urine; they are literally In the Piss, as the title of the work implies. They are also perhaps ‘on the piss’ – getting drunk as they did in a video made in 1972 entitled Gordon’s makes us Drunk (Tate, London), where the artists are shown seated at a table, drinking gin to a soundtrack of Elgar and Grieg. Gilbert and George use accumulated images of themselves as their artistic signature and never allow themselves to be shown apart. Their photoworks are always meticulously signed, dated and titled.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 247

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1997back to top

Current affairs

The Labour party - re-branded as New Labour - win a spectacular landslide election and Tony Blair becomes Prime Minister. Their electoral campaign promised that 'things can only get better' and that their priorities would be 'education, education, education.' While New Labour's 'third way' centralist approach put off some party traditionalists, it secured the popular vote.
Princess Diana and her lover Dodi Fayed die in a car crash in Paris.

Art and science

J.K. Rowling publishes Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the first of seven fantasy books chronicling the life of Harry and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: learning magic, breaking school rules, romantic entanglements and their struggles against the evil Lord Voldemort.
Scientists at the Roslin Institute in Scotland announce that they have cloned the first mammal from an adult cell: '6LL3', or Dolly the Sheep.


Governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten hands the island back to China after one hundred and fifty years as a British Colony. Although sovereignty was restored to China, it was agreed that the Island would become a 'Special Administrative Region' under the 'One Country, Two Systems' principle, effectively keeping its capitalist economy and way of life for a period of 50 years.

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