Gilbert & George, Drinking Pieces 1972–73

Gilbert & George, Drinking Pieces 1972–73


After selling their first work of art in 1970, Gilbert & George celebrated by getting drunk at Balls Brothers Wine Bar in Bethnal Green, London, and recorded their experience in a series of black and white pictures.

In 2017, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac presented Gilbert & George: Drinking Pieces & Video Sculpture 1972–73 in their new London Gallery at Ely House. The exhibition provided a unique and timely opportunity to review the importance and resonance of Gilbert & George’s early art. The joyful titles of the works reflect the duo’s mood and reveal fragments of life. 

An envelope-shaped book comprises of thick grey cardstock tied with green herringbone ribbon and contains one concertina folded leaf of 7 postcards. The book is housed in a custom-made envelope. The object ultimately remains true to the duo’s original work and intuitive process.  The recycled greyboard connects to the urban environment of East End. At the same time, the green hue of the ribbon and envelope links to the artists’ traditional British attire and the colours of painted shutters on Fournier Street.

When visiting the artist’s studio, we revealed that we received the project commission by sending out a Christmas card to the gallery — something that the artists had done as part of their practice at the very start of their careers. To which they exclaimed: ‘You are a living sculpture!’