The next couple of artistic projects, paired by lecturer Irina Kulik, both stem from the idea that perhaps “life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” as Oscar Wilde put it.
The oeuvre of the Brits Gilbert & George (Gilbert Proesch, b. 1943, and George Passmore, b. 1942) is primarily based on the transformation of photographic material, while thematically it remains closely related to London’s East End—where the partners in art have lived and worked as a duo since the late 1960s. Their style can be defined by a deliberately formal appearance and glossy finish, which go together with their aim to bring art closer to the masses. The Turner Prize nominees (1984) and winners (1986) often model for their own works, which are also characterized by their large scale, the use of primary colors—yellow, blue, and red—and grids on top of the photo image. The subject matter represented by this openly gay artistic duo varies from British history to gender issues and the subculture communities they’ve been part of or witness to in decades past.
Timm Ulrichs (b. 1940) is a contemporary artist, hugely influential on the resurrection and evolution of avant-garde trends in post-World War II Germany. Acting in parallel to common conventions and counting Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters among his mentors, Ulrichs considers himself a “total” artist, applying conceptual and neo-Dadaist strategies in his practice and mundane life, and thus binding them. In 1959, he launched the so-called Central Advertising Agency for Total Art, Banalism, and Extemporality (Werbezentrale für Totalkunst, Banalismus und Extemporismus) in Hannover, expanding the ideas of Schwitters's “Merzkunst.” A participant in Konrad Fischer’s seminal curatorial project Konzeption/Conception (Leverkusen, 1969) and Documenta 6 (1977), along with many major solo shows, Ulrichs has for decades maintained the status of a genuinely independent practitioner committed to his aesthetic and political principles.