Pierre et Gilles

This couple of French artists have been on the scene since 1977. They first met at a party in Paris and they become inseparable in both life and work to the extent that their names have created a brand of two connected elements, the world of the photographer Pierre, and that of the painter Gilles. Theirs is a naïve paradise, withut any sense of guilt whatsoever: their kitsch aesthetic is intentional, emphasized and theatrical to the extreme without ever being vulgar, while the expressions of the subjects portrayed (women transformed into goddesses, singers astride improbable theme park swans, crying Red Army officers) are intentionally conventional. Their images have been published in Marie Claire, Faµade, Actuel, Playboy and Samurai, but they have also worked for the record industry creating album covers, and they are especially in demand for their portraits, which have transformed people like Madonna, Björk, Catherine Deneuve, and Johnny Halliday into colorful icons. Pierre et Gilles’ skill lies in creating images with universal appeal, almost like sophisticated versions of the tacky little scented calendars that you used to find in barber’s shops: you feel that they want to tinge reality with a cheap perfume. Their “danger” lies not in their message, but in the way they communicate it: they jump freely from one subject to another without making any statement, so that the viewers feel like indulgent uncles or aunts faced with two dissolute nephews. Among their most important exhibitions was the wide-ranging retrospective held at the Maison de la Photographie in Paris in 1999.