Jake & Dinos Chapman - Biography
Their intention to work together was made known in November 1992 through their anti-aesthetic manifesto “We are Artists”, which they wrote on the wall of the Institute of contemporary Arts in London.
Jake & Dinos Chapman - art collections
Ever since they have worked on their image as the Enfants Terribles and disgusted aesthetes and have proven this in various exhibitions. Their work splits both the public as well as art critics. At the same time their works can be seen in recognized collections such as those in MoMa, Tate and the Deutsche Bank.
“We work analytically, not critically."
The sight of their art shocks, appears scandalous and is often seen as provocative. Most of their naked figures with noses in form of penises and “anal mouths”, by which they were made famous, bear titles such as Fuck Face (1994), Two-faced Cunt (1995) or Fuckface Twin (1995). They look like sexless baby dolls with wigs, whose bodies have been maimed, put together and sometimes grow together at the most unlikely places. The only item of clothing, which serves as reference to our everyday reality, is a sneaker, which further heightens the nudity (Nike, Fila, Adidas or Rebok – must-haves in the 90s). But if one were to observe only the surface and give oneself over to the provocative banality of the subjects, then one would be falling exactly into the trap set by the artists. Behind their works one can find a concept with philosophical claims: “We work analytically, not critically. If we thematise cloning in confluent dolls, cluttered with sex organs, then we are not trying to solve the problem of genetic engineering.” Based on their own words they are trying to cause “moral panic”.
As early as the beginning of their artistic creations, they dealt with the work of the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya (1746-1828). In 2003 they bought two complete original editions of Goya, each for 25,000 Pounds. They reworked these with their own monster heads, clown noses or insect eyes, thereby breaking the taboo of the inviolable originals and triggered a storm of outrage. Their intervention aims at calling into question the aesthetic relationship of beauty and death. From their perspective they have increased the brutality of the depicted: “We are concerned with the question of how and whether moralistic point of views may or can be made visible in art”.
One of their most famous works was in the possession of Charles Saatchi and was destroyed in a fire in 2004 in art storage. Hell (1996-2000) was made up of 9 vitrines, which were arranged in form of an upside down swastika. A miniature landscape with 30,000 figures in the size of tin soldiers, which show the most varied atrocities and diverse war theatres in a parallel narrative structure. A horror tableau, that isn’t simply reduced to the holocaust, because most of the figures cannot be identified. They torture and decapitate without any sense of remorse – and even here the corny joke is quite present: Besides the soldiers one can find on this landscape of terror astronauts, mutants with three heads and ten legs and a snowman on a cross.In 2008, With Fucking Hell, they created a remake of the apocalyptic panorama of the human agony. Adding to the vitrines they edited 13 watercolours of Adolf Hitler with rainbows, starlets and butterflies. According to the Chapman brothers Hitler had complained about artists, who paint the “meadows blue, the sky green and the clouds sulphur-yellow”: “In the name of the German people I want to forbid this pathetic disastrousness.” The Chapmans believe that “by denigrating his art they have actually made it better.”
Behind the chaos there’s a system: whether child mutants or war scenarios – the figures, the edited sketches as well as the installations of the Chapmans have something real, at the same time something frighteningly artificial. They are the exemplary substitutions, in which the catastrophes of civilisation will be played through, up into the abyss of our allegedly sophisticated society.
The artist duo (*1966 in Cheltenham, * 1962 in London) was made famous under the label “Young British Artists”: An art movement that was started at the end of the 80s by students of the London Goldsmith College. They conceptualized exhibitions, which caught the eye of the media. The movement was also supported by Charles Saatchi.
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