Gilbert and George, Side by Side, 2012. Favorite
Side by Side, the first book created by Gilbert & George just four years into their lifelong artistic partnership, was published in 1971 by Koenig Brothers in Cologne in a limited edition of only 600 copies. Long out of print and now a valuable collectors’ item, it is at last being republished, again in a signed limited edition, in order to bring this essential work back into the public domain. Described in the brief preface as ‘a contemporary sculpture novel’, it functions as a kind of manifesto or declaration of their view of life and art both in terms of the poetic texts and images
The book is divided into three chapters as sequences of double-page spreads linking the typographically elegant texts with a single image, each page complementing and informing the other. The first chapter, ‘With Us in the Nature’, is a celebration of being alone – together – in the countryside, with strong overtones of Romanticism. For Chapter Two, ‘A Glimpse into the Abstract World’, brief but poetically ornate texts are teamed with hand-drawn, very abstracted, imagery. The final chapter, ‘The Reality in Our Living’, provides the gritty urban flipside to the bucolic idyll of Chapter One, the black-and-white images fleshing out the words of the Flanagan & Allen music hall song, ‘Underneath the Arches’, the soundtrack to the celebrated Singing Sculpture that they had first presented in 1969. These images can be understood as a key to all their subsequent pictures.
As with the 1st edition, the most immediately striking visual feature of this second edition of Side by Side, before one even opens it, is the hand-marbled cover that makes each of the 2000 copies of this beautiful edition a unique art object. Lovingly created by the artists themselves, these seductive covers function as an invitation to step into the vision of Gilbert & George even before the pages have been opened.
The book is thread-sewn and fully hand-bound using marbled papers specially created by Gilbert & George.
The 85 images in the book are reproduced in duotone, and printed on Mohawk Superfine White Eggshell (Library of Congress certified).
Each marbled cover is unique and each copy is signed and numbered by the artists.
This limited edition Gilbert and George book is available at Enitharmon here