Tools of the trade

2 Models Jake and Dinos Chapman use toy soldiers to pay homage to Goya's 'Disasters of War'

Between 1812 and 1815, Francisco Goya created one of the most enduring indictments of man's inhumanity to man in his "Disasters of War", a series of 83 etchings in which he depicted the dreadful barbarities perpetrated by the French army of Napoleon against his countrymen.

One hundred and eighty years later, the young British artistic duo Jake and Dinos Chapman re-interpreted the "Disasters" in their own series of 3D artworks. Their life-size version of a particularly harrowing scene of the castration of Spanish prisoners, in which they used shop dummies, shocked passers-by when displayed in the window of Victoria Miro's Cork Street gallery.

Previously, though, the brothers had painstakingly recreated a number of smaller versions of each of the 83 scenes. "It took us six months," says Jake. "We just used toy soldiers, bought at the most neurotic shops in the world, where you see grown men desperately looking for omnipotence." With no little amount of ingenuity, for half a year he and his brother worked with painstaking care to adapt the little 54mm figures to replicate the miseries of Goya's images. But what can have prompted the two young turks to have entered those shops in the first place, or to have conceived their three-dimensional horrors?

During the late 1970s, in the days when a PC was still a man in a blue uniform, little boys spent their time not with Sonic the Hedgehog, but gluing together Airfix kits and painting them with Humbrol enamels. In 1978, when Jake and Dinos were an impressionable 12 and 16, Almark books published a handy book called Building Napoleonic Dioramas. It's filled with invaluable tips. "Very successful dioramas," reads the introduction, "can be achieved by copying paintings by the masters of the time... Great care should be taken to position the figures to create the correct depth and perspective."

It's probable, of course, that the model-makers encountered on buying forays to "neurotic shops" would never have envisaged any more unpleasant subject for their miniature creations than "Dragoons at a Well", or "The Glorious Gloucesters at Alexandria", and, through their gritty realism, Jake and Dinos have wittily subverted an apparently morbid sub-culture. But surely the brothers would agree with the author of Almark's indispensable guide that: "It is very gratifying to create a good, well-balanced diorama. To see a group of figures on an attractive base is very nice."

IAIN GALE

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen