During my short trip to Bologna in April, I visited Palazzo Poggi, a wonderful museum …
«On aime idéaliser, mais on parle aussi de la mort,
du mystère et de l’étrangeté de la vie.
Il y a autant de douceur que de la violence dans nos images…»
Pierre et Gilles.
The works of the french duo Pierre Commoy and Gilles Blanchard are far from what we can define elegant. More similar to some adolescent collages, colorful and glittered, their works are a mix of painting and photography heavily retouched to make people seem fake. Pierre photographs the model, and Gilles retouches and hand-colors the print. Actually their work is not only limited to photography but include building the sets and costumes and creating historical or fantasy tableaux vivant. Mixing the sacred and the profane, porn and religion, they follow the tableaux vivant-art Steven Arnold made popular long ago along with the artificiality of LaChapelle in order to create holy kitschy icons.
Essentially they do potraits or sterotypes like the sailor, the toreador, the soldier etc sublimating them in some mythological character or religious deity from the Virgin Mary and saints to Kali and, of course, celebrities. Mixing popular people with religion and mithology means to combine pop with classic art so that there’s no more a scale of values and everything is saint and pop at the same time. When High and Low jumbles up, Kitsch is born. Anyway it’s possible to notice a romantic aim in their works, a nostalgia for the Holiness. Maybe Pierre et Gilles pictures are the modern shape of the old holy cards?
They also directed two music video for Marc Almond’s 1990 song “A Lover Spurned” and Lamour’s video clip for “Tu es foutu”.
“It’s hard to think of contemporary culture without the influence of Pierre et Gilles, from advertising to fashion photography, music video, and film. This is truly global art.” said Jeff Koons. The sailor ispired style, which seems to perfectly embody so many elements of gay male fantasy, was used by Pierre et Gilles since 80’s. In 1995 Jean Paul Gaultier’s released the fragrance “Le Mâle” with the same idea of sailor and in the 1990s David LaChapelle took a photograph of two sailors kissing for a Diesel ad.
Legend, Madonna 1995
(they took this picture while Madonna was shooting this ad )
Le Grand Amour, Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese, 2004
La Sainte Famille, Nina Hagen, Franck, Otis, 1991
Nina Hagen 1993
Nina Hagen 1998
Jeff Stryker pornastar, 1991