‘I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up — they have no holidays.’ – Henry Youngman


{ Goya, Plate 39 from The Disasters of War, 1810-1820 }


{ Jake and Dinos Chapman, Great Deeds Against the Dead, 1994 }

The Chapman brothers, fresh out of the Royal College of Art, had become obsessed with Goya’s gory ouvre - to the point, as Jake Chapman told me in a phone interview, that they later even considered changing their surname to Goya. They were especially haunted by the famous series of etchings known as “The Disasters of War”, in which Goya portrayed the atrocities he had witnessed in the Peninsular War between Spain and France (1808-1814) with a visceral horror. (…)

In 1994, they re-created plate 39 of “The Disasters of War - Great Feat! With Dead Men!” - on a larger scale, using nylon-wigged mannequins. Great Deeds Against the Dead (1994), which was their contribution to the legendary ‘Sensation’ exhibition at the Royal Academy, depicts three naked male bodies bound to a tree; blood dribbles from the crotches of these shop dummies where their genitalia would have been, if they’d ever had them. One victim’s arm dangles by its fingers from the makeshift gallows alongside the carcass of his torso, the severed head skewered on a branch.

{ Christopher Turner, editor at Cabinet magazine | Tate | Continue reading }




{ Jake and Dinos Chapman, Sex, 2003 }

With their bronze sculptures under the title “Sex” (2003), the Chapman brothers make a jump in time. They show the decomposed corpses from “Great Deeds Against the Dead” (1994). The bodies are swarming with flies, maggots, worms, and all sorts of creatures which have picked their bones clean. At first glance, everything seems naturalistic. It isn’t until one examines the work more closely and talks to the artists that one realizes the flies and worms were originally cheap plastic reproductions from toy stores and novelty shops. These were cast in bronze and hand-painted by the artists.

{ Absolute Arts | Continue reading | Art Net }


{ Jake and Dinos Chapman, Death, 2003 }