Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hell Seen through the Eyes of the Chapman Brothers

For many years, Jake and Dinos Chapman, two British conceptual artists, have upset the established art world with their creations of sexuality, macabre images, and misplaced body parts. Their images do what few works today can do, which is shock the viewer.

Although I had known about them, I'd never seen in detail one of their works. One highly discussed work was their "Hell" (2000). This work was obviously inspired by Dante's Inferno [which I taught for years in History and Thought of Western Man]. Spurred on by the atrocities of the Nazi horror camps, the work features miniature Nazi soldiers being tortured a la The Inferno by Death's minions. The original work consisted of nine glass cases laid out in a swastika pattern.

That work was eventually destroyed in a fire. [God loves irony?] Last year, the brothers recreated it as a new work, retitling it "F**king Hell." As a miniaturist and diorama creator, I am bowled over by their vision. The film from their website is adult, disturbing and one of the most powerful artworks I've seen. Guernica by Picasso produced outrage at the brutality of the Spanish Civil War. This should do the same kind of thing. Some have called it one of the great artworks of this century.

Check it out here, but be warned it is not for more "sensitive" viewers.

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