Tools of the trade
2 Models Jake and Dinos Chapman use toy soldiers to pay homage to Goya's 'Disasters of War'
Tuesday 06 February 1996
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."
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food