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Jake and Dinos Chapman

Lifespan: 1962 - 1966

Related: contemporary art - British art - transgression - appropriation - Goya

European Gothic: A Spirited Exchange 1760-1960 (2002) - Avril Horner (editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Please note the Chapman brother's rendering of Goya's print on the cover of this book.


Jake Chapman (born 1966) and Dinos Chapman (born 1962) are brothers and British artists who work almost exclusively in collaboration with each other.

Jake was born in Cheltenham, Dinos in London. Both studied at the Royal College of Art and worked as assistants to Gilbert and George before beginning to collaborate in 1992.

The brothers have often made pieces with plastic models or fibreglass mannequins of people. An early piece consisted of eighty-three scenes of torture and disfigurement as recorded by Francisco Goya in his series of etchings, Disasters of War (a work they later returned to) rendered into small three-dimensional plastic models. One of these was later turned into a life-size work, Great Deeds Against the Dead.

The Chapman brothers continued the theme of anatomical alteration with a series of mannequins of children, sometimes fused together, with genitalia in place of facial features. These works had titles which reflected the combined humour and capacity to shock often considered so typical of the brothers' work, such as Fuckface and Two-Faced Cunt.

Hell (2000) saw a return to their earlier miniature form. It consisted of a large number of very small miniature figures of Nazis engaged in acts of torture arranged in nine glass cases laid out in the shape of a swastika.

The brothers have often been the subject of controversy. Aside from complaints on the grounds of bad taste, there were protests in 2003 when they returned to Goya's Disasters of War, directly altering a set of prints of the etchings purchased by the Chapmans by adding funny faces, an act described by some as "defacement". Ostensibly as a protest against this piece, Aaron Barschak (who later became famous for gate-crashing Prince William's 21st birthday party dressed as Osama bin Laden in a frock) threw a pot of red paint over Jake Chapman during a talk he was giving in May 2003.

The Chapmans' work often references work by earlier artists. As well as pieces based directly on Goya, much of their work has an affinity with that of Hieronymus Bosch, and they have also referenced pieces by William Blake, Auguste Rodin and Nicolas Poussin. In Ubermensch (1995), a sculpture of Stephen Hawking sat precariously on top of a cliff; this has been seen as a reference to Edwin Landseer's Monarch of the Glen.

The Chapman brothers were nominated for the Turner Prize in 2003.

On 24 May 2004, a fire in a storage warehouse destroyed many works from the Saatchi collection, including, it is believed, Hell. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jake_and_Dinos_Chapman [Jun 2005]

Jake and Dinos Chapman: Insult to Injury (2004) - Jake Chapman

Jake and Dinos Chapman: Insult to Injury (2004) - Jake Chapman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

In 2001, as part of their ongoing obsession with Francisco Goya's work, Jake and Dinos Chapman purchased one of the few remaining sets of the Disasters of War prints, made from the artist's original plates by the Goya Foundation in 1937. Produced by Goya between 1810 and 1820 as an attack on the horrors of war and its supposed romance and idealism, this group of 80 images has since become emblematic of art's moral voice, as well as a powerful template for the representation of the gross insanity of such conflict. Disasters of War has been idolized by generations of artists, notably Picasso and Dalí, who were both directly inspired by Goya's anti-war polemic. The Chapmans meticulously "rectified" their Goya prints, drawing on top of what must be the most revered set of prints in existence. The artists superimposed cartoon faces, either those of clowns or puppies, onto figures Goya had intended as allegories of human suffering. Entitled Insult to Injury, this reworked series has been seen variously as an evil and meaningless desecration by vandals, and as the ultimate homage to Goya's masterpiece, a fitting extension of his despair. In making the book that records the Chapmans' new work, reproductions were made directly from the embellished Goya prints themselves. The result is an unprecedented print quality for the images, which are reproduced at actual size, and in four colors. The 80 plates are complemented by a previously unpublished text by Jake Chapman. --via Amazon.com

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