Saturday, April 05, 2008

Gilbert & George's Scatalogical Whimsy

After a nutty ride in the back section of a Muni bus to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood while seated next to an old hippie chick and her dog Luna... neighbor Richard and I made a quick trek through the East end of Golden Gate Park late Thursday afternoon, trying to reach the deYoung Museum before it closed for the day.

Our main problem was that the flora in the park was more beautiful than anything in the museum, so it was difficult not to linger outside...

...but we finally did make it to the museum with a half hour to spare.

The large special exhibit in the basement is a retrospective of the gay London artists and lovers Gilbert & George, who were all the youthful rage in the early 1980s. Their schtick is fairly unvarying, rectangular panels that stack up into huge, billboard-sized canvases featuring block lettering, wild day-glo colors, naked representations of the artists over the decades, and intentionally shocking subject matter such as huge cartoon turds in the shape of a cross.

I expected to hate the exhibit, but instead found myself oddly delighted, by the scale of the work, the colors, and its sheer outrageousness. Also, watching the two artists looking like punked out art stars in the 1980s on their canvases, and then morphing into little old bank clerks in their present work is sweet in the context of all the "strong adult content," as the signage warns.

The artists are also very shrewd in their marketing, and at the gift shop you can buy everything from tote bags with "DEATH" block-lettered across it to ties and umbrellas featuring their colorful designs, though I didn't see any turd imagery being featured.

Next up at the deYoung is another marketing guru, the glass artist Dale Chihuly, one of whose sculptures has just gone up in the garden in front. I wonder what the gift shop is going to look like for that one.


janinsanfran said...

I saw the Chihuly extravaganza in Tacoma and hated it. Later saw some of his creations interspersed with jungle flora in a conservatory in Pittsburgh and enjoyed it a lot.

Talk about a marketing genius ...

namastenancy said...

Just what the De Young needs- yellow phallic totems.
The park is certainly beautiful this time of year, isn't it? I went last week and took tons of photos.