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Chapman Brothers prints

A glimpse into the Chapman Brothers journey of ideas through war, the genesis of life, artistic creation and death has gone on display through 100 remarkable and intricate prints, giving a unique insight into the Chapmans as printmakers.

The exhibition Fatal Consequences explores the extraordinary ways in which Jake & Dinos Chapman have used printmaking as part of their creative process. At the heart of the exhibition is their seriesThe Disasters of War, which began by adapting Francisco Goya’s etchings of the cruelty and suffering of the Spanish Peninsular War (1808-14).

For the first time different versions of The Disasters of War and related Chapman prints have been brought together to show the way the images were adapted and ideas evolved in different printing methods, including white on black, black on white, and, most intriguingly, a version printed on pages from a child’s picture book. A few sets were even modified again by hand-colouring. These are shown alongside eight prints from Francesco Goya’s original series.

Jake & Dinos Chapman’s prints The Disasters of War took ideas from Goya’s print series of the same name and recycled, reinvented and extended the imagery and horrors with a cornucopia of ideas from later conflicts - particularly the Second World War and the Nazi holocaust - and from contemporary culture. But they also go beyond imagery of war, drawing on other areas of interest, such as Symbolism and Surrealism.

The set was first printed in white ink on black paper, but the Chapman’s manipulated the imagery and impact by printing a second version in white ink on black paper, and then made a third version on pages from a child’s colouring book, with chilling and sometimes comic effect. The set was commissioned by Charles Booth-Clibborn and published under his imprint, The Paragon Press, in London in 1999. The etchings were proofed and printed at Hope (Sufferance) Press, London.

Fatal Consequences is part of a sequence of exhibitions at the Fitzwilliam Museum marking the centenary of the First World War, and in this case also marking the 200th anniversary of the Spanish Peninsular War.

The 83 prints of The Disasters of War which are on display were bought by the Fitzwilliam Museum in 2010 with the help of the Art Fund and the V&A/MLA Purchase Grant Fund.

Fatal Consequences: The Chapman Brothers & Goya’s Disasters of War is at the Fitzwilliam Museum from 14 October 2014 to 8 February 2015. Admission is free.

Image: The Disasters of War, 1999, Jake & Dinos Chapman (born 1966 & 1962), black ink on a page cut from a children's colouring book, Collection of Charles Booth-Clibborn.

Thursday 22nd January 2015

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