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Red Morning Drowned

Gilbert & George, London, founded 1967

Made in England, Europe


Gelatin silver photographs with hand-coloring (twenty-five panels)

Overall: 10 feet × 8 feet 4 inches × 1 inches (304.8 × 254 × 2.5 cm) Other (each panel): 23 5/8 × 19 11/16 inches (60 × 50 cm)

© Gilbert & George

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Margaretta S. Hinchman Fund, the Edgar Viguers Seeler Fund, the Gertrud A. White Fund, and with restricted matching funds for contemporary acquisitions, 1982

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Additional information:
  • PublicationTwentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Gilbert and George, who have been collaborating since 1967, have described their "Red Morning" series as "a photographic painting of modern life."1 The series consists of seventeen multipaneled photo-pieces, which share an interest in urban scenery such as high-rise architecture, tree branches, and wet pavements, some tinted a deep red, the color of darkroom light. The artists have used the color red extensively in their work, drawing on its symbolic associations with blood, love, hate, and roses. It is also the national color of China and the former Soviet Union. The subtitles of the "Red Morning" series reflect a deep anxiety about the political situation in Britain in the late 1970s. Such words as "Hell," "Violence," "Attack," "Killing," "Trouble," "Murder," and "Drowned" convey the sense of impending disaster the artists felt at this time. The photographs of the artists clad in white shirt sleeves, without their trademark tweed suit jackets, somehow mark them as particularly vulnerable.

    Red Morning Drowned takes its title from the photographs of puddles that radiate out from the central image of an office building facade, forming a cross. These pools of water on the street carry reflections of the sky and the surrounding environment. Like all the images in this series, these photographs were taken in the Spitalfields area of East London, a working-class neighborhood where the artists live. The spire of Nicholas Hawksmoor's Christ Church in Spitalfields, a magnificent example of late Baroque architecture, is reflected upside down in some of the puddles; this landmark would be instantly recognizable to a British audience. "Red Morning" is notable as the first series in which the artists established the mural-sized grid format that has remained standard for their photo-pieces ever since. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 144.

    1) Quoted in Europe in the Seventies: Aspects of Recent Art, by Jean-Christophe Ammann (Chicago: The Art Institute, 1977), p. 19.