Chapman Brothers Saluting Adolf Hitler Golf Ornament Causes Outrage

A statue of Adolf Hitler by the Turner Prize nominated, YBA artists Jake and Dinos Chapman has caused outrage with British Jewish organisations. The sculpture fashioned as part of a ‘crazy’ (mini) golf installation raises its arm in a faciest salute and shouts; “Nein Nein Nein” when the golf ball is hit through a tunnel. The work which has been put on display in a Lancashire gallery has been deemed “tasteless” by members of the public, who have demanded its removal.

Michael Samuels from the Board of Deputies of British Jews’ said the work, on display in the Arts Council funded Blackpool exhibition, had “absolutely no artistic value whatsoever”. Gallery curator Stuart Tulloch rebutted saying, the work was a chance to “ridicule” Hitler. The Chapman brothers’ sculpture is included as part of the Grundy Art Gallery’s Adventureland Golf exhibition, which features art works as different holes on a mini- golf course. Other holes depict a statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled, a closed and boarded-up library and a desert island.

London-based American artist Doug Fishbone has teamed up with The Grundy Art Gallery and the Nova Festival of Arts and Music to host Doug Fishbone and Friends Adventureland Golf for this summer and autumn. Each of the nine holes has been designed by some of the UK’s most celebrated artists and includes: Jake and Dinos Chapman, David Shrigley, Gary Webb, Brian Griffiths, Jonathan Allen, Pete Fowler, Ian Monroe, Zatorski and Zatorski, and Doug Fishbone himself.

These artist-designed holes range from statements on politics and life and death, to cheeky and fun challenges, making this very much a crazy golf course with a difference.The course begins with David Shrigley’s hand written statements offering advice and guidance on your way round the course: “Respect Your Opponent”, “You Might Be Stupid”, “Golf Isn’t Boring”.

While Gary Webb’s builder’s bum, Pete Fowler’s green monster, and Brian Griffiths’s desert island each contain something of the essence of the British seaside, Jonathan Allen’s boarded up library points to the irreplaceable loss of cultural services across the country through the current austerity measures we face. A similar vein is followed by Ian Monroe as he highlights the uncertainty of European economies.

Jake and Dinos Chapman, and Doug Fishbone have created replicas of two dictators for the course. The Chapman’s saluting Adolf Hitler places the powerful image of the Nazi regime within the context of holiday fun and in doing so makes reference to the British wartime spirit of making humour at the fuehrer’s expense. Doug Fishbone has recreated the toppling of the massive Saddam Hussein statue in Firdos Square, Baghdad, in 2003, an image that came to define the Iraqi war.  And finally – and here the end really is the end – the course concludes with Zatorski and Zatorski’s black mausoleum-like slabs. Once you’ve succeeded in getting the ball in the hole you’ve realized your final challenge and the ball is irretrievable. Your game is over!

Jake and Dinos Chapman are no strangers to Nazi imagery their iconic work ‘Hell’ (1999) is arguably their most ambitious work. It is an immense tabletop tableau, peopled with over 30,000 remodelled, 2-inch-high figures, many in Nazi uniform and performing egregious acts of cruelty. The work combined historical, religious and mythic narratives to present an apocalyptic snapshot of the twentieth-century. Tragically this work was destroyed in the MOMART fire in 2004 and the Chapmans rebuked by saying they would make another, more ambitious in scale and detail – the result of which was ‘Fucking Hell’ (2008). They also have produced iconoclastic sculpture, prints and installations that examine, with searing wit and energy, contemporary politics, religion and morality.

Working together since their graduation from the Royal College of Art in 1990, the Chapmans first received critical acclaim in 1991 for a diorama sculpture entitled ‘Disasters of War’ created out of remodelled plastic figurines enacting scenes from Goya’s ‘Disasters of War’ etchings. Later they took a single scene from the work and meticulously transformed it into a ‘Great Deeds Against the Dead’ (1994), a life-size tableau of reworked fibreglass mannequins depicting three castrated and mutilated soldiers tied to a tree.

The interim saw ‘The Chapman Family Collection’ (2002), comprised of a group of sculptures that bring to mind the loot from a Victorian explorer’s trophy bag, yet also portraying characters from McDonald’s. The conflation of the exotic fetish and the cheap fast-food giveaway, imperialism and globalisation, created a powerful sense of dislocation. ‘Like A Dog Returns To Its Vomit’ (2005), was an exhibition of the Chapmans’ graphic works, a large collection of etchings and drawings displayed on two walls and arranged in the shape of dogs. Many of the works were reinterpretations of Goya etchings, including the ‘Disasters Of War’ and the ‘Los Caprichos’ series. Using the Tate Collection’s erotomanic sculpture ‘Little Death Machine (Castrated)’ (1993) as their point of departure, the Chapmans created ‘When Humans Walked the Earth’ (2008) an installation of ten improbable machines, cast in bronze and now ossified, emulating aspects of human behaviour with a trademark subversive wit.

Jake Chapman was born in 1966 in Cheltenham, Dinos Chapman in 1962 in London. They live and work in London

Grundy Art Gallery Queen Street, Blackpool, FY1 1PU open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm.  Open Bank Holidays during summer and autumn 11am – 4pm – Free

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