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The Meaning of the Earth

The Meaning of the Earth

By (author) Wolf Jahn


  • Wolf Jahn is deeply knowledgeable about Gilbert & George’s work and practice, having written extensively about them over the past 40 years, including the book The Art of Gilbert & George (Thames & Hudson, 1989)
  • The Meaning of the Earth has been designed to reflect the anarchic nature of Gilbert & George’s practice. Only Gilbert & George’s works are allowed to sit large across the pages – all other works and comparative images are deliberately shrunk down and thrown into the margins – reflecting the importance of the unique system of meaning they have wrought within their practice
  • The cover and printed edges of the book are illustrated with original artwork created by Gilbert & George especially for the book
Full Description

The Meaning of the Earth offers a retrospective on the lives and work of the relentlessly controversial artists, placing them within the context of twentieth century British culture. Wolf Jahn tells the story of how Gilbert & George found their identity in opposition to pervasive ideas around social conformity and religion after meeting in 1967.
The artists staged an internal revolution, mining their psyches to create visionary and unwaveringly modern art. The ‘two people but one artist’ ask the questions that gnaw at us all: ‘Where do we come from?’, ‘Who are we?’ and ‘Where are we going?’ The book meditates on the artists’ role in this century, connecting their beginnings as Living Sculptures to their pictorial work of today.
The Meaning of the Earth
is a continuation of Jahn’s 1989 work, The Art of Gilbert & George. The author writes a playful philosophical interrogation of Gilbert & George’s work that truly grasps its cosmic scale.

About the Author

Born in Stuttgart in 1955, Wolf Jahn is a freelance writer. Over the past 40 years, Wolf Jahn has written extensively about the works of Gilbert & George and is the author of The Art of Gilbert & George (Thames & Hudson, 1989).

Gilbert & George began creating art together in 1967 when they met at Central St Martins School of Art, and from the beginning – in their films and LIVING SCULPTURE performances – they have appeared as figures in their own art. The 'two men, one artist' believe that everything is potential subject matter for art. They address social issues and taboos, challenging what might be considered 'good taste'. Implicit in their art is the idea that an artist’s sacrifice and personal investment is a necessary condition of art. The backdrop and inspiration for much of their art is the East End of London where Gilbert & George have lived and created art for nearly 50 years. From street signs to Ginkgo trees, from chewing gum stains on the pavements to vistas of urban grandeur and decay, their work is both an ongoing portrait of a city and a reflection on the human condition. Gilbert & George confront many of the fundamental issues of existence: sex, religion, corruption, violence, hope, fear, addiction and death.

Hurtwood Press Ltd
22nd May 2023
USA & Canada
8 in x 9.25 in
600 Pages
363 color, 47 b&w
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