Talking ’bout the Chapman Bros.

Jake and Dinos Chapman are a pair of artists who also happen to be brothers.  They do a lot of what I’d call ‘transgressive art’ — the kind of stuff some people would censor if they could.  Their (potentially NSFW) web site is here, with a number of galleries and stuff.  They do sculpture, paintings, and other stuff.  A lot of their paintings take older works and either deface or reimagine them, while their sculpture often depicts decaying corpses, mutants, semi-pornographic satire.

I became aware of them when I saw one of their books* at a library I was working at.  It had a lot of photos of a huge diorama they’d built called “Hell.”  The thing was in a series of glass cases which, from over head, made the shape of a swastika, and the diorama itself depicted an apocalyptic landscape of concentration camps and medieval torture, referring to things like Breughel’s Triumph of death and Bosch’s Hell.  The artists had made their own toy soldiers (I think in 54mm/Green Army Man scale); I forget if they were plastic or clay, but I believe they made thousands of them.  Many were naked and/or skeletal victims, and others were uniformed and/or demon guards/torturers.  In 2004 or so the original diorama was destroyed in a fire.

This caught the attention of the forums over at The Miniatures Page, where some posters took a good deal of glee in the fact that the diorama which should not have been had been destroyed.  The thread on that is buried very deep if it exists at all; I wasn’t able to find it again, but I remember it because TMP was my favorite haunt back then.

But Hell is back!  In 2008 they created a second version. It is called “Fucking Hell” but looks pretty similar.

An overview of their work is here too.




*Hell, isbn 0224073079. I just checked Amazon and it is selling for $300 now. Sheesh!


Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 7:03 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. somehow I missed this when you posted it – I am delighted you blogged the Chapmans! The OSR is one of the places they belong, I reckon.

    I’m not that big a fan of theirs (superficially I think they’re working a lot of the same ground as Jeff Koons) but I’ve never actually seen any of their work up close, to give it the old Renaissance painting “what are these elements doing here” kind of textual critique that nobody really does on modern/pomo art any more. And I’d like to do that with “hell” because I suspect there’s a lot there.

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