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With Gilbert & George

104 min.
Year of Production:
Gilbert & George
Production Company:
Whole Picture Productions
Berlinale Section:
Berlinale Category:
Documentary Film

Filmmaker Julian Cole has known the artists Gilbert & George for over twenty years – since 1986, to be exact, when he posed for the pair as a model. Some time after they photographed him he decided to take up the camera himself and make a film about them. And so, eighteen years ago, he began filming the footage that now appears in this cinematic portrait describing the duo’s career over the past four decades – from its modest beginnings to their current status as high earners and stars of the art world.
When Gilbert & George began appearing as ‘living sculptures’ in the early 1960s, art critics were hostile. “We simply had only ourselves. (…) we never knew about this idea that art had to become life, not art about art. And that, I think, was the biggest invention for us: to make art about life and not art about art.” Even at that time, their motto was always “art for all” and, to this day, they have remained true to this credo: ”We wanted to make an art that everybody would be able to understand. If a child comes into a gallery he should be able to understand us.“

Julian Cole’s documentary WITH GILBERT & GEORGE demonstrates how these two artists have succeeded in transcending all cultural barriers. The film follows the pair not only to exhibitions in Russia and China – it also takes us into their inner sanctum: the famous studio in Spitalsfield where they have been living and working together since 1969.


Cole earned an undergraduate degree in engineering from Cornell, after which he entered Caltech as a graduate student. He worked with Hans Liepmann and Paco Lagerstrom, the latter his advisor, submitting a dissertation on transonic flow in 1949. Lagerstrom and Cole continued their work, having formed a small research group at GALCIT to better understand the mathematics of fluid flow. These two, along with Leon Trilling found that flows having weak shocks could be described by Burgers' equation, for which Cole later found a clever transformation to solve it.

Cole continued to delve deeper into this topic for the next decade. Cole took sabbatical in 1963-1964 at Harvard, where he wrote a book on this body of work: Perturbation Methods in Applied Mathematics.

Cole is the namesake of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics's Julian Cole Lectureship.  

FILMOGRAFIE Julian Cole (selection)

2007 With Gilbert & George  1987 Ostia 

Julian Cole IMDb

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