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28 October 2014

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The Turner Prize 2003

Death, decay, disgust - after last year's low-key affair, no one could accuse the Turner Prize 2003 of being short on provocation.
Tipped by many to win the £20,000 art prize, the experience of the Chapman brothers is a clear reminder that favourites often fall at the final hurdle. None of which will upset their starry rep or their bad boy antics, as our reviewer Carol Murphy makes clear...

Jake & Dinos Chapman

Click here for the other Turner Prize nominees: Anya Gallaccio>>, Willie Doherty>> and Grayson Perry>>

Jake & Dinos ChapmanBeginnings: Dinos Chapman was born in London in 1962 and his brother Jake was born in Cheltenham in 1966. They both graduated from the Royal College of Art, London, in 1990 and began working together shortly afterwards.

Past form: they have a particular fascination for the
work of Goya and, of course, sex, war and death. Grabbed attention initially in the early 90s with their three dimensional recreations of a series of Goya etchings called The Disasters of War. Stole the show at Sensation 1997 at the Royal Academy with a piece called Tragic Anatomies (1996), a circle of naked, mutilated and sexually mutated child mannequins wearing nothing but Fila trainers and standing on a pedestal. The piece was deemed too risqué and was given an '18' rating, thus sealing its fate.

Installation view of work by Jake & Dinos Chapman as part of the Turner Prize 2003
Installation view of the Chapman brothers work in the Turner Prize 2003. Back: Insult to Injury (2003). Middle: Sex (2003). Front: Death (2003). All courtesy Jay Jopling/White Cube (London)

Nominated this year for: Insult to Injury (2003), a series of cartoon-like, Chapman-defaced Goya etchings. Sex (2003), a bronze sculpture of a tree with hanging skeletons, swarming with maggots, snails and flies. And, most controversially, Death (2003), a painted bronze cast of two sex dolls doing what is known in general parlance as a '69'. (Am I the only one experiencing dizzy spells of déjà vu when I think of the work the New York artist Jeff Koons made in the 80s?)

Detail of Sex (2003) by the Chapman brothers
Detail of Sex (2003). Cast bronze. Courtesy Jay Jopling/White Cube (London)

The inside view: uber conservative art critic Brian Sewell has
expressed a liking for their 'defaced' Goya etchings. This could spell
disaster for their kudos factor.

Ever hear from again?: nothing but.

We say: the Chapmans have a lot to answer for. Emblematic of how contemporary art has wrung interest out of ideas which revolve around sex and death by turning complex subject matter into the banal. Their nomination seems past the point: the Turner selection panel should have picked up on Hell (1999-2000) in Apocalypse at the Royal Academy 2000, or Chapmanworld, their expansive installation at the ICA in 1996.

The Turner Prize 2003 is at Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1.Tel: 020 7887 8000. Daily 10.00 - 17.50 until 11 January 2004
Web: Tate Britain
(The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites)

Now go on to Anya Gallaccio>> or Willie Doherty>> or Grayson Perry>> or go to our Galleries index for more on London's visual arts scene


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