Jake and Dinos Chapman, the British sibling art duo who have made a name for themselves creating offensive artwork have done it again. For their contribution to the Grundy Art Gallery’s exhibition “Doug Fishbone and Friends: Adventureland Golf,” they created a statue of Adolf Hitler as a golf ornament that raises its arm in salute when a ball goes through it.
According to BBC News, a British Jewish organization is not happy with the work. Michael Samuels of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said the work “had absolutely no artistic value whatsoever.” Gallery curator Stuart Tulloch responded that the work was an opportunity to “ridicule” Hitler.
The exhibition is designed as a wacky indoor golf course, where each of the nine holes has been designed by a UK artist. David Shrigley, Gary Webb, Pete Fowler and Doug Fishbone are some of the other artists involved. And the works make a range of statements about politics, life and death, as well as “cheeky and fun challenges.”
We’re not sure what kind of statement the Hitler statue was intended to make, but knowing the Chapman brothers’ other work, it was probably intended to be both cheeky and serious. The brothers first came to popular attention with Disasters of War, a sculptural diorama of plastic mannequins re-creating scenes from a series of Goya’s Disasters of War etchings. For their 1999 work Hell, they presented a large tabletop tableau of more than 30,000 2-inch-high figurines, many in Nazi uniform, performing odious acts of cruelty.
But odious acts of cruelty aside, this is not the first time that the Chapman brothers have used Hitler as subject matter. Their 2008 show at White Cube gallery in London, “If Hitler Had Been a Hippy How Happy Would We Be,” presented 13 watercolors purportedly painted by Adolf Hitler, which the Chapman brothers “prettified” by adding hippy motifs. And they’ll be offering mugs and tea towels named after that exhibition on their website.
Update, Wednesday, August 15, 10 a.m.: In response to a query about the controversy over the statue by Jake and Dinos Chapman in exhibition at the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool, Adam Ogden of Blackpool Council said to Gallerist in an email:
“Before the exhibition was installed we consulted with the local veterans committee, who felt that this was history which needed to be public so that people could learn about it, and wished us the best of luck for the exhibition. We’ve had a really positive reaction from people who have been to visit the exhibition, and despite what some UK papers have said, we haven’t had any complaints from visitors.”
And in response to some of the Jewish communities in England who have commented on it, Blackpool Council issued the following statement:
Cllr Graham Cain, Cabinet Member for Tourism and Culture, said: ‘Since the exhibition opened on Saturday we’ve had a really positive response and lots of people trying out the adventure golf course.
‘Adventureland Golf won’t appeal to everyone and we understand and respect that.’