Register







Options

Christine Vial-Kayser, 'The Gothic Spirit in the art of Jake and Dinos Chapman: An Historical Investigation.'

[Otranto 007]

To cite or link to this article, please use the permanent url http://www.otranto.co.uk/index.php/publication/view/58 , or the shortened link tinyurl.com/otranto007 .

 

In 2006 Tate Britain organised an exhibition devoted to the Gothic spirit in the art of Henry Fuseli (1741-1825), William Blake (1757-1827) and James Gillray (1757-1815) called Gothic Nightmares: Fuseli, Blake and the Romantic Imagination. In the catalogue, Martin Myrone suggests that part of the fascination with those artists “is that they occupy the characteristic fault-lines within […] ascendant modernity […] – where art may become trash, enlightenment mutates into exploitation […] and, in every case, vice versa”,[1] exposing “the fatal emptiness at the heart of [eighteenth-century] bourgeois modernity”.[2] He considers that the monstrous elements of their art might be equated to “a Frankenstein vision of the body,” or even related to the “video nasties” of the 1980s by Lucio Fulci and Jess Franco.[3]
 

Born over two hundred years later, the artists Dinos Chapman (b. 1962) and his younger brother Jake (b. 1966) elicit similar interrogations, as exemplified by the exhibition Bad Art for Bad People organized at the end of that same year 2006, at Tate Liverpool.[4] Since their first solo exhibition at the ICA in 1996, Chapmanworld: Dinos and Jake Chapman, and the exhibition Sensation at the Royal Academy the following year, critics have been pondering whether their work is art or low culture: is Zygotic Acceleration (1995) an invitation to paedophilia or a “commodity criticism”;[5] is Great Deeds against the Dead (1994) a denunciation of war atrocities or a post-modern play with art history;[6] is Fucking Hell (2008) a hysterical celebration or a denunciation of “the little Nazi in you”?[7] Julian Stalabrass contends that the Chapmans’work “produces an uneasy laughter […] streamlined for insertion in the mass media”,[8] while Christopher Grünenberg asserts that, like all Gothic art, it reacts against “the requirement of a corporate, service-oriented economy”.[9] David Falconer sees their representation of psychological ambiguities as “literal translations” of a Freudian preconscious “noumenal beyond”,[10] while the same Christopher Grünenberg believes they use “horror, disgust and laughter” like Bataille, to push unconscious processes to the surface,[11] “addressing both topical and as well as fundamental questions about human existence and identity”.[12] Sylvère Lotringer dismisses the equivalence made between the Chapmans and “Bataille’s Eroticism” on the ground that the nihilism of the former differs radically from the latter’s “hope of reclaiming symbolic power”,[13] and proposes that it simply is anarchic.

The artists help foster such oxymoronic interpretations, quoting Sade, Bataille and Nietzsche,[14] while mocking the critics who fall prey to their “red herrings”.[15] This ambivalence is indeed characteristic of the Gothic – both classical and contemporary, elitist or popular – and of its reception.[16]
 

Yet, just as critics of Fuseli resist “acknowledging [his] possible relationship” with “such determinedly exploitative film-makers as Lucio Fulci and Jess Franco”,[17] critics of the Chapmans avoid relating the grotesque and camp features of their work to the “video nasties”, despite their obvious quotations of the latter.[18] Their similarities with the classical Gothic, including the art of Henry Fuseli and William Blake, have equally been ignored,[19] despite common nightmarish, grotesque and oxymoronic features as suggested above. This paper will first establish the indebtedness of the art of the Chapmans to the contemporary Gothic / horror movies, their common narratives and formal devices, that consist in a mix of horrific and ludicrous situations involving teenagers confronting adult life. It will then attempt a comparison with Blake’s spectral monsters and Fuseli’s sadistic figures, in order to demonstrate that the Chapmans and their eighteenth-century predecessors also share common formal and narrative features – in that case the representation of a “perverse” sexuality and its confrontation with the “Moral Law” – and a similar aim:  to debunk the establishment of outmoded social values in times of social mayhem. In conclusion it will be proposed that what distinguishes the Chapmans from the video nasties, and from Blake, is what the artists share with Fuseli and many Gothic writers, that is a “picaresque” position in regards to their social environment, a notion that will be presented and distinguished from the merely grotesque.

 

In Sensation Jake and Dinos Chapman exhibited several works in fibreglass, among which Zygotic Acceleration (1995) and Tragic Anatomies (1996)  belong to the Fuckface series.[20] They represent naked child mannequins with fairly realistic bodies, smooth, pretty and interchangeable faces, wearing brand new sport shoes. Long hairs and lack of genitals suggest preteens, boys or girls alike, as is common in shop window mannequins. Their generic outlook is altered by the presence, on some of them, of an erect penis in place of the nose and an open anus in place of the mouth. On others, a young head protrudes in place of the genitals.

These monstrous anatomies stand in stark contrast to the sheen hairs and sport shoes, evocative of the contemporary imperative of a healthy mind and body. The wicked smiles of the mannequins contrast with their plainness suggesting a tension between the visible and the hidden, the latter making its way forcibly into the former. In Zygotic Acceleration the children are half fused with one another while standing on a small podium, like a group of pupils waiting for a prize. In Tragic Anatomies they are scattered within a (fake) green bush, a possible import from Paul McCarthy’s The Garden (1992). Some are seemingly copulating – actually melting into one another – in the bushes with an absent gaze, while others cross the lawn looking at the spectator with a sly, mocking smile, as if partaking in a perverse hide-and seek-game. As mentioned in the introduction, some critics have suggested that the work is an immoral (or amoral) statement regarding paedophilia.[21] But the artists brush away any such interpretation, suggesting that their Zygotes are not “children” but “genetically mature organisms [who] dislike being called children. They wear sneakers so that they can run fast like super-powered nomads.”[22] This kind of verbiage is the language equivalent of their images. Both are suggestive of the “video nasties” of the 1980s, which, as suggested by BBC film critic Mark Kermode,[23] are conspicuous in the artists’ works. The brothers confirm the centrality of that influence in an interview: “It’s odd how any kind of historical overview of our work has neglected to mention how immersed we are in the culture of the video nasties, which was a substantial portion of our entrance into adult thinking”.[24] Some elements of their works indeed appear as direct quotations from the genre’s main productions: in Paul Morrissey’s Flesh for Frankenstein (1973) – produced by Andy Warhol – the Baron cuts down and reassembles body parts of similarly blue-eyed and fair-skinned youngsters in order to produce a perfect “Serbian”. In Rob Zombie’s Halloween of 2007, a remake of John Carpenter’s first version of the film, the deviant teenager Michael Myers, then aged ten, looks very much like the Chapman dummies. In Brian Yuzna’s Society (1992), a well groomed teenager named Bill wearing likewise clean sneakers falls prey to a monstrous “society” of rich people that attempt to feed on him in an outrageous spectacle of sticky, polymorphous, bodily fusion. The blond head emerging between the legs of a child in Zigotic Acceleration is an actual replica of the final scene in which the face of Bill’s sister surges through his/her mother’s genital, asking whether Bill wants to indulge in any “edible fantasy”. Beyond visible influences, a similar sense of derailment creeps into the Chapman works: in Jean Rollin’s Zombie Lake (1981), ludicrous Nazi zombies emerge from the same noxious green depths; the fusion of the children’s bodies suggests the uncontrolled self-replication of life-threatening organisms, akin to an epidemic, a stock trope of the horror genre to be found in Dawn of the Dead, a 2004 by Zack Snyder of Romero's film of the same name.

 

Great Deeds against the Dead  is a large sculpture made after the print n° 39, Grande hazaña! Con muertos! of the series The Disasters of War by Francesco Goya. Made of life-size shiny and smooth plastic models, the Chapmans' sculture shows two castrated masculine bodies and several other body parts attached to a dead tree. The heads of the mannequins, their mould line visible, are topped with a nylon wig.Goya’s composition, akin to a crucifixion, transforms the poor wretches into martyrs, and offers, through art, an imaginative redemption. The Chapmans believe on the contrary that Goya inserts an “absolute terror of material termination…because the body is elaborated as flesh, as matter. No longer the religious body, no longer redeemed by God”.[25] By enlarging the print they want to make “a dead sculpture. Dead in content and dead – or inert – in materiality”.[26] Indeed the size of the hanging dummies and the “dead material” (fibreglass looking like plastic) of which it is made, remind us somewhat of beef carcasses hanging from the ceiling of a refrigerated storage area. The smooth surface, devoid of life marks and the generic features, impedes the identification of the “corpse” as a person, a fact that, as Catherine Spooner remarked about the exhibition Body Worlds, induces our voyeuristic contemplation of it.[27] Thus the mannequin slightly protruding in front of the tree evokes a “porn film star”[28] or a love doll with bleeding castrated genitals. The presence of two other heads, one skewered on a top branch of the tree, the other lying at its foot, and of two other castrated bodies, which in Goya testify to the violence of the attack, here suggest a sexual encounter ending in mutual dismemberment. The work simultaneously entices and impairs a morbid voyeurism because the marks of castration reverberate into one’s psyche, a phenomenon which the artists subsume as: “It’s not only about how we view an object, but also how an object views us.”[29]

As suggested by a recent piece of research regarding Goya’s possible homosexuality,[30] the Chapmans may have touched upon a hidden motive of the prints with their queer rendering of the bodies, as they contend that the plates used for The Disasters are scarred “with indelible signs of autoeroticism”.[31] Yet their main stylistic sources, as mentioned above, are American horror movies of the 1970s. The obviously fake but disturbing marks of amputation are again quotations from Morrissey’s Flesh for Frankenstein. The hairdo of the dummies combined with their beheading evoke George Romero’s 1978 Dawn of the Dead in which pale, dead-eyed living dead looking like mannequins are decapitated and hammered by members of a special police unit in a shopping mall. Understanding the meanings of these films may thus help us make sense of the Chapmans’ works.

The meaning of Society is quite transparent: in the final scene a character explains to the hero that, “the rich have always sucked low class shit like you”. Made in 1992, the film is an inverted mirror of Ronald Reagan’s economic policy, which cut welfare benefits, that supposedly sucked America’s economy, and also cut taxes for the very rich, purportedly to help them create more jobs. In Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1985) the effeminate and passive living dead are foils to the “real men”, the energetic police members of the SWAT team. The film can be read as a critique of the commoditisation of life, the undead standing for a lumpenproletariat,[32] the passive white victims of the capitalist system. A showcase displays military figurines that echo the outfit and body language of the policemen, suggesting that they also are manipulated by the “market” into “immoral” behaviour, as overzealous SWAT members, helped by their own reanimated dead, kill residents resisting martial law (in Sydner’s remake of the film a policeman plays chess with such figurines [54: 37 mn.]).

In the work of the Chapman brothers the dummies are possible markers of similar anxieties regarding the threat to individual subjectivity brought about by mass consumption. This is Christophe Grünenberg’s interpretation of contemporary Gothic art in general, and the Chapmans in particular:

Gothic art reacts aggressively against […] ‘the requirement of a corporate, service-oriented economy and management structure; small family size, with emphasis on leisure and sexual compatibility between spouses; consumerism’.[33]

The explanations given by the artists in an interview with Jonathan Harris regarding the work Fucking Hell (2008) confirm this rationale.[34] The work is made of 15 000 figurines of Nazi soldiers locked in nine model death camps displayed in distinct glass cabinets, similar to those found in natural history museums. The figurines construe a maddening place – similar to Hieronymus Bosch’s Mad Meg and Peter Bruegel’s Triumph of Death (both dated c. 1562) – in which soldiers wearing Nazi armbands kill each other in frantic individual corps-à-corps suggestive of sado-masochistic intercourse. Symbols of the camps such as barbed wires, watch tower and factories with chimneys, are mixed with an idiosyncratic paraphernalia: a snowman crucified on top of a modelled Golgotha; a McDonald clown with a fixed smile; skeleton Nazi storm troopers on a raft, harbouring smiley faces. Once again references to horror movies abound: the grinning McDonald clown, also found in the Chapman Family Collection – 24 fake primitive art works in the shape of hamburgers and McDonald emblems – can be traced to the uncanny figure of Trash in The Return of the Living Dead (Dan O'Bannon, 1985). Surging out of darkness like the Chapmans’ figures, the red hair punk teenager, dressed in a slim T-shirt and tight-fitting black shorts, grabs and eats a friend’s head during an embrace, after having being bitten herself by an undead. The Nazi storm troopers are reminders of Jean Rollin Zombie Lake (1981) in which a group of German soldiers killed and dumped into a lake by a French Resistance cell during the Second World War, rise from the bottom and attack a group of blond hippies bathing naked in the same spot years later.

Combining markers of the holocaust and clichés taken from mainstream cinema, Fucking Hell exemplifies the aporia, which, according to the brothers, is the outcome of labour under capitalist economy:

[T]he whole thing is nonsensical the only thing that gives it sense is the real work it has taken to make, the valuation of work […] ‘work makes you free’, ‘ Arbeit macht frei’.[35]

[We] treat labour as suicidal economy […]. We reached the idea of the death camp as a model of capital [… O]ne person’s life is worth another person’s labour.[36]

The stated aim is to show that capitalism produces boredom and apathy through the manufacturing process itself:  “[T]he work is about production […] we employ ten people […] me and Dinos have become the two commandants.”[37] The assistants are practising artists who are employed  “to stick arms to figures […], to paint them […]. It’s capital, it’s labour, it’s the embodiment of hard work.”[38]

The agency of the installation (a swastika shape) makes it difficult to approach the miniature scenes as dozens of visitors press themselves, trying to peep at the work through a thick row of people, only to realize the repetitive content of each cabinet. It induces in the visitor a “viewing” frenzy that is supposed to replicate the way capitalism manipulates the consumer. Through advertisement, promotions, price discount, sales etc., capitalism literally exerts the consumer’s mental energy, his discerning abilities, while boosting his irrepressible desire to consume mass produced objects. The Chapmans aim to emulate these arousing strategies by similarly organizing the display of licentious, detailed, proliferating – yet repetitive – narratives mixed with markers of the holocaust. By facilitating the promotion of the work, through the art market – under the banner of the “infamous” Young British Artists – they want to foster an irrepressible desire “to see” and thus replicate the alleged alienating process of mass consumption: “[T]he point is somehow to implicate the viewer by an over-literal exertion of energy”, explains Jake Chapman,[39] who compares this combination of horror and boredom to the works of the marquis de Sade:

One of the references for the work is Sade: 120 days of Sodom. The nice thing about that book is that the content exhausts itself after the first ten pages, the notion that there is this perpetual intensification of shocking material begins to be boring (producing) monotony […] absolute zero intensity.[40]

Analysing the ambivalent role of fascist representations in British and American movies during the Cold War, Petra Rau writes that by offering “a phenomenology of absolute alterity […] the Nazis were simply other, a complete counterconstruct to the values of liberal democracy.”[41] Contrast with the Nazism offered a reassurance that, despite their dense spying network and intensive surveillance policies, western governments remained protective of individual freedom. Fucking Hell – its watch-tower suggestive of panoptic surveillance by the Nazis and its setting of miniature scenes in a window-case that places the viewer in a similar position of panoptic surveillance – makes fun of this implied presentation of the Nazis as “absolutely” alien to Western democracies, which the artists see as working hand in hand with capitalist propaganda:

I remember seeing one of those funny little dioramas by fetishist modelmakers, with a little humpback bridge, with a little stream of fresh water running through and a little boy fishing, and over the bridge is a little unit of Panzers and soldiers […T]he interesting thing is when you look at these dioramas they’re always SS, they’re always the worst of the worst, they’re always the hyper-Nazis – they’re never the enlisted, well-intentioned German who couldn’t help himself  – it’s always the ideological fascist, the ones who are after genes, they’re annihilating genes rather than people – but there’s one little thing that says ‘life goes on’.[42]

Emulating the holocaust narrative to denounce the manipulation that it covers, the Chapmans may thus trigger a critical distance regarding capitalist discourse and express a view similar to the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who claimed that the Nazis controlled their victims by appealing to their rationality like capitalism obtains labour through the false promise of shared benefits:

 The Nazis stumbled gradually upon the realization that their victims’ behaviour could be made predictable; and by the same token, manipulable and controllable. And that to achieve this they had to induce their victims to behave rationally.[43]

It was because the ultimate objective of the Holocaust operation defied all rational calculation that its success could be built out of the rational actions of its prospective victims.[44]

Yet more complex psychological anxieties run through the works, and through the “video nasties”: the queer gender of the living dead in Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, and the masochistic brutality with which they are beheaded by the policemen also expresses fears regarding a loss of masculinity and of traditional patriarchal values, in times of sexual liberation and the gay rights movement. The Night of the Living Dead – released in October 1968 following the assassination of Martin Luther King in April – exposes the lynching of black people as the result of the brainwashing by the media of a gullible white audience; the final killing of Ben, the only black man among the attacked, by a white sheriff and the massive exhibition of his picture by the press as that of a ghoul, exposes the ruthlessness of the manipulation. The children turned zombies in Halloween and the parents having orgiastic desires for their children in Society suggest a general sense of anomia. A similar uncanniness creeps into the Chapmans’ works: Fucking Hell “is about trying to produce the conditions [...] by which the work supplants our mastery of it”, says Jake.[45] The twisting of multiple plastic figurines into scenes of horror “leaves you sprawling, it involves a kind of panic […] – it dispossesses you, really quite malevolently”, he adds.[46]
 

In both cases, horrible figures are combined with grotesque features that make the fear bearable. Gasping skulls in advanced stages of decomposition face the viewer upon the opening of a door in Night of the Living Dead, or surge into a room through an opened window in The Return of the Living Dead. In the Chapmans’ Rape of Creativity (2003), a Ronnie McDonald with Hitler’s face greets the viewer into a derelict enclosure in which a broken-down camper-van is topped with a McDonald’s neon sign. Inside the caravan a gasping skull masturbates. Richard Dorment writes about the latter: “[W]e peek voyeuristically into the camper in exactly the same way that we view the spreadeagled nude in Marcel Duchamp's Etant Donné.”[47] Smileys are everywhere, in the work as in the artists’ website. Locked in a grim smile and fixed eyesight, this friendly symbol becomes a threatening sign, of which the brothers say:  “Our work is funny! [it is] also horrific. They’re not discontinuous terms”.[48]

This conflation of the horrific and the funny is typically Gothic. It is born out of the topsy-turvy world in which it develops and reflects a state of panic regarding social discontinuities. Catherine Spooner, among others, indeed remarks that “the characteristic feature of teen Gothic of the 1970s and ‘80s was loss of control.”[49] The Chapmans concur with this view, saying: “A lot of 1970s horror films had a nihilistic and bleak outlook on life compared with contemporary ones. They didn't portray a world of hope.”[50]

In the USA, the late 1970s were indeed a time of perceived happiness (linked to abundant goods, progress in medicine) combined with an upheaval of established values (Civil Rights movement, the Feminist movement, the Cold War and Vietnam War, suburban anxiety, rising oil prices and unemployment) that threatened the social order. Jason Zinoman writes that, in the 1970s, George Romero, like John Carpenter, Stephen King and others, were “outsiders, insecure and alienated, frequently at odds with their parents and other authority figures”, who had experienced “joy at being scared as children.”[51]  The films re-enact these childhood joys, in which one experiences the outside world within the protective realm of one’s house, magically believing that its extreme violence can be kept inside the television set. Making and watching such films as an adult suggests the same wishful thinking that despite uncontrollable social changes, things may eventually return to normality.

 In England, there was a similar sense of gloom brought about by deindustrialization and unemployment in the 1980s, during the brothers’ teenage years. The artists mention this feeling of debasement as central to their sensibility. They were born in the late 1960s in a white working-class family. Their parents were also artists (having studied at Hornsey College) who aspired to belong to the intelligentsia but felt rejected as working-class, like the living dead in Romero’s film:

They went to art school, but they didn’t pursue it – it wasn’t available to them. [In Night of the living Dead] there’s a pod outside the garden and they keep the pod and later on they see there’s a little dog with a head on it that’s slightly damaged… I think my parents were like that, they were hippies who weren’t really part of the fraternity because they weren’t middle-class enough, they weren’t wealthy enough to fully indulge that kind of [life]. [52]

In 1979, the electoral defeat of the Labour Party by the Conservatives, led by Margaret Thatcher, marked the beginning of a new political era leading to the crushing of trades unions and of the radical Left. The artists’ parents became “kind of aggressively disappointed by that, the fall of the Left”.[53] The 1990s, the time in which the brothers emerged into the art world, was the acme of this dismay, combining the implementation of a conservative economic policy in England and in the USA with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the deconstruction of the Maoist dream.[54] The brothers see themselves as heirs to this disillusion: “We have inherited that: it’s a real surrender into a marginal area of autonomous control […]. It’s kind of like the punk ethos. It’s as sad as that.”[55] Their intention is to amplify this general gloom to somehow uproot it: “It’s kind of utter futility turned into some kind of real fatalistic pleasure. It’s being inside the death drive instead of being outside […] and maintaining the cosmetics of critique.”[56] They want to debunk art of its assumed redemptive agenda: “[Fucking Hell] is about punishing the idea of making a work of art […] punishing pathos, trying to annihilate the claims made for a work of art”,[57] and downgrade it to mere merchandise:

[We] have foregrounded Goya in order to undermine the process by which anyone interpreting our work might foolishly try and analyse it and suggest that there is anything original about it.[58]

[It’s] superficial, it has no depth whatsoever. [59] [It is made for the benefit of] a Financial institution, the White Cube [which expects] some massive profit at the end.[60]

The grimacing skulls, full of proliferating and wriggling worms, shown in those films as in the Chapmans’ works, can thus be compared to the mythical figure of Medusa, which, as Jean Clair suggests, is typical of times of “doubt”:

A sign of terror, as well as a defence against the power or evil, [Medusa] appears preferably during periods in which, societies, the evolution of mind frames […] experience confusion, dismay, doubt regarding acquired certainties […]. Gorgo, being a divinity that incarnates powers of disorder radically alien to men […] refers to periods of hesitation between culture and barbarity […] which are periods of transition.[61]

These horrific figures, like the mask of Medusa, act as totems brandished at the face of uncontrolled social fears, a method of defence experienced in childhood, and re-enacted in adult life. Yet the placing of a clown red nose on the skull of Sex (2003) makes fun of the terror of death that is a stock trope of the videonasties. The transformation of the characters from teenagers into children seems to cross the limit of acceptable abjectness, even for a “die-hard horror movies fan”, as the critic Mark Kermode describes himself.[62] It forces the viewer to admit that the concept of “childhood”, as intrinsically different from adulthood, is dépassé. Claude Lévi-Strauss, in Le Père Noël supplicié, has linked this concept to an attempt to maintain a fiction, that there are times in life in which death has no part, in contemporary godless societies.[63]. Guy Debord relates this social production of ritualized spectacle to late capitalism: “In a world which really is topsy-turvy, the true is a moment of the false.”[64] It can be argued that while the video nasties aim at soothing the anxiety brought about by a perceived loss of control on both life and death – and thus contribute to the passivity of the beholder – the function of the critical Gothic – in which we hereby include the Chapmans – is to reveal this falseness through emphasis and caricature. A parallel can thus been drawn between the Chapmans and Blake and Fuseli.

 

Fuseli, Blake and the power of horror

William Blake (1757-1827) lived on the margins of society, having not succeeded in joining the stable of printmakers working for the trader Alerman Boydell. He opposed the loss of individuality and creativity that the Industrial Revolution had produced and the British foray in world trade which, according to him, led to the submission of the arts to continental and so called “Roman” taste, the law of the Empire, and a kind of globalised aesthetic which, so Morris Eaves has argued, amounted to a conspiracy of what Blake called the “Counter Arts”.[65] Having been caught up in the frenzy of Protestant violence during the riots of June 1780[66] he transformed his various anxieties into epic poems narrating the fights of Titans, such as Orc, against the “Moral Law”, blaming the latter for suggesting that man was born a degenerate: “Prisons are built with stones of Law, brothels with bricks of Religion”.[67] His poems call for the birth of a new man, the artist, who, having shrugged off his fear of death, may “walk[…] upon the eternal Mountains raising his heavenly voice/ Conversing with the Animal forms of wisdom night & day/ That risen from the Sea of fierce renewed walk over the Earth.”[68]

To get back to this state of confidence and retrieve a central position within Nature, man searches for a spiritual “energy”. Even though this search is similar to Burke’s sublime, Blake dissociates himself from its metaphysical and rational horizon saying: “Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy.”[69] He gives Reason and Moral Law monstrous shapes, representing them in the spectral form of the philosophers of the Enlightenment “Bacon & Newton & Locke […] Voltaire; Rousseau” in Jerusalem,[70] as the Red Dragon of the Apocalypse or as The Ghost of Fleas. To fight such demonic powers a robust will, to be found only in some “chosen individuals” is needed: “Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling.”[71] It is also necessary to listen to one’s bodily needs because “Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that call'd Body is a portion of Soul discern'd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age.”[72] The elevation of the mind is to be obtained through a “perverse sexuality”, freed from reproductive aim and a sense of guilt, as expressed in the Daughters of Albion:

The moment of desire! the moment of desire! The virgin
That pines for man shall awaken her womb to enormous joys
In the secret shadows of her chamber: the youth shut up from
The lustful joy shall forget to generate, and create an amorous image
In the shadows of his curtains and in the folds of his silent pillow.
Are not these the places of religion, the rewards of continence
The self-enjoyings of self-denial? Why dost thou seek religion?
Is it because acts are not lovely that thou seekest solitude,
Where the horrible darkness is impressed with reflections of desire? [73]

Richard Sha suggests that not only perverse sexuality but the principle of “Perversion” itself came to occupy a central position as a concept and technique for Blake who “exploits the power of perversion to uproot his readers from secure ground.”[74] It underpins Blake’s embracing of the “Bible of Hell”, “which the world shall have if they behave well […] which the world shall have whether they will or no.”[75] It turns the artist into a new Prometheus, associating artistic imagination with sexual vigour.[76]

At first sight, this strategy seems opposite to that of the Chapmans. The brothers do make indirect reference to Blake’s work but in an ironic tone: in the title of the installation When Humans Walked the Earth (2006) that presents a doomed world of severed heads in blackened bronze, as if petrified by lava; and in Jake’s book The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, which title parodies that of Blake’s epic poem and of Frank Stella’s eponymous work and which content is a grotesque mimicking of children’s literature.[77] Yet a search for energy is central to their work as it is to Blake’s: “We liked the idea that a work of art was the petrifaction of impersonal matter-energy”.[78] Like Blake, they blame rationality (by which the rulers control the ruled),[79] for a general loss of energy. Works such as Fucking Hell, which Jake describes as an oxymoronic “ attractor to depth [which] is absolutely impoverished”;[80] that is to say, an attempt to trap the reasoning power of the viewer by simultaneously eliciting a moral interpretation regarding the Nazis’ attraction to death, and, in placing smileys on signposts, debunking it. Yet the brothers relate their fight against reason not to Blake but to Nietzsche “[who] was appalled by the death of God […] because he hated the idea of secular reason.”[81]

The Blakean/ Nietzschean need to recoup energy from the body and away from the intellect is made grotesquely clear in Ubermensch (1995). The sculpture shows the physically disabled astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in his wheel chair, facing the abyss, amidst smoke and laughter. The setting recalls the 1989 TV series Rude Awakening,[82] and evokes the divorce of the physicist from his first wife, a situation that made headlines in 1995. Beyond the anecdote the work is an attack on intellectualism as “a tendency in the social discourse to interpret every action in the sense of super ego.”[83]

Their Zygotic children seem alien to the happy children in Songs of Innocence “[w]hen the meadows laugh with lively green / And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene / When Mary and Susan and Emily / With their sweet round mouths sing “Ha, Ha, He!”[84]  The green bushes in which the Chapmans’ mannequins play rather suggest the misguided journey of the young Thel into “The eternal gates”:

Thel enter’d in & saw the secrets of the land unknown.
She saw the couches of the dead, & where the fibrous roots
Of every heart on earth infixes deep its restless twists:
A land of sorrows & of tears where never smile was seen.[85]

In Blake’s work though, innocence looks like a cherished illusion rather than a reality. It is possible that the premature initiation of Thel into the dark secrets of life be the expression of an actual event, which the poet evokes in “Infant Sorrow” of Songs of Experience as the terrible encounter between a child and “a Priest with holy look [who] Like a serpent in the day Underneath my vine […] lay” that leads to the child smiting the priest so that “his gore Staind the roots my mirtle bore.”[86] The poem was altered several times with “priest and serpent” made into a plural, and then the first “Priest with holy look” was replaced by “My father then with holy look”.[87] The nature of the event that led the infant to “smite” the priest and be stained with “his gore” has been interpreted as a protest against children being forced to labour during the Industrial Revolution. Yet the reference to the threatening priest-father and the several alterations of the poem may reflect a more personal trauma. Written in 1794, the Songs of Experience may express the sorrow of a 20 years period of commercial failure and psychological gloom that started after the death of his father in 1784. During this period a “Spectrous fiend” had possessed the poet, as he confessed to his protector Haley in 1804.[88] The psychoanalyst Margaret Storch links this “spectre” to Blake’s unresolved Oedipal attraction towards his father.[89] In view of the association of the figure of the father with that of the smiting priest, I would suggest rather that a double bind is expressed in ‘Infant Sorrow’: a desire to overcome a shaming by his father for purported bad behaviour as a child, and the reactivation of this affect when he failed to achieve a commercial success.[90] The poem may thus be understood as an attempt to sublimate, in the psychoanalytic sense, a personal trauma.

Hence the Chapmans’ Zygotic Acceleration appears not so much as a gory rendition of childhood innocence alien to Blake’s Song of Innocence, but as a desublimated, matter-of-fact representation of the ‘Infant Sorrow’ of Songs of Experience, in which children “smite back”. Their monstrous depictions of childhood are meant to arouse one’s “primary will” in order to save oneself from the general apocalypse: “Critical agitation is oedipal trauma seeking revenge on sublimation for inhabiting its primary will.”[91] Behind this purported universal, or “disinterested” endeavour to recoup one’s will, we surmise that, like Blake, the Chapman fight some early occurrence of shame through their work, possibly related in their case to the social shame their parents felt as working class artists.

According to Myrone, the similar Gothic tendencies displayed by eighteenth-century and contemporary British art may stem from “a suppressed dimension of British culture, more true and vital than the legitimately ordained heritage.” This dimension is “the excessive, violent, abstract or visionary” strength that “[ou]r present sense of communal cultural identity, fabricated in the Thatcherite era,” tends to dismiss “as vile and foreign” in favour of “the quaint and restrained.”[92] Myrone considers this repressed dimension of British culture to be that of the “1790s Jacobinists”.[93] I suggest that it is rather the mythical Saxon fighter, the heroic Albion, for Blake, and the proud and hardy Unionist, for the Chapmans, who say that they would like people to get from their work “a certain smug sense of robustness […] thinking that there are other people in the world that are […] feeling a bit kind of stimulated by that marginal existence.”[94] The means are somewhat different though: one is based on the sublime and the poetic, the other on a roguishness that they share with Henry Fuseli.

Like the Chapmans, the works of Henry Fuseli are full of sexual innuendo with a strong sardonic undertone. A parallel can be drawn between a print called Falsa ad Coelum, engraved by Blake after Fuseli, and an installation by the Chapman for the Turner price, made of two separate works: Sex and Death, both from 2003. Falsa ad Coelum  shows a woman, with a coquettish hairdo, asleep on a couch, three cupids escaping through a window, one throwing an arrow at her. A butterfly has alighted on her naked thigh. A “Ganeshlike” figure[95] (the head of an elephant on the body of a man) is crunched besides her, his trunk pointing at the inscription “falsa ad coelum mittunt insomnia manes”. Above her, a nude male figure stands statue-like, his right finger on his lips. He represents Harpocrates, the Egyptian god of silence (and death). The inscription is taken from the Aeneid[96] and relates to the ancient belief that dreams enter the soul from two doors, one made of ivory, one of cornea. Only dreams coming through the door of cornea are real. Here the elephant may thus not only designate Ganesh but also the door of false dreams that lead to hell. The false dream of love enters the woman’s soul while she falls asleep – may be while having her hair combed[97] – through the butterfly on her thigh. The composition suggests auto-eroticism[98] and appears as an allegory of women’s proclivity to masturbation, which is itself an effect of their evil spirit, a widespread belief in the eighteenth century.[99] The request for silence asked of the viewer by Harpocrates means that this dream will take her to hell, if she is not awoken. The viewer thus becomes complicit with the spell. Such double play also characterizes The Nightmare .

Located in a period in which science was, so it has been argued, deciphering the mechanisms of “perverse sexuality”, free from the aim of reproduction,[100] Falsa ad coelum, like Fuseli’s sado-masochistic study Woman torturing a child or a small man (c. 1815-1820) [101] seems to recognize the liberating power of sexual jouissance, like with Blake, while expressing a fear that emancipated women may not need men any longer. This anxiety regarding a loss of virility, is a central preoccupation of Fuseli, as revealed by his writings:
 

In an age of luxury women have taste, decide and dictate; for in an age of luxury woman aspires to the functions of man, and man slides into the offices of woman. The epoch of eunuchs was ever the epoch of viragos.[102]

This fear locates his art in the realm of “terror”, a feeling akin to the sublime that aimed at invigorating a Promethean spirit and to associate it with the power of the artist to regain control over his destiny (on a metaphysical and social level).[103] This function of art replaced its redemptive and religious role, which Fuseli rejected[104] and allegedly distinguished it from “horror and loathsomeness”, a marker of popular art.[105] Yet there is in Fuseli’s images the surmise of a “sin” being vindicated, indicating an ambivalent relationship regarding Puritan gloom, “that Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin, from whose visitations, in some shape or other, no deeply thinking mind is always and wholly free.”[106] Because it underpins personal fears, Fuseli’s art easily slips from the “sublime terror” to the “popular, grotesque horror”.[107] In his images the sin is pressed on women, presented as witches – as shown by the title The Night-hag visiting Lapland witches or Lapland Orgies, (c. 1794-6), a popular belief that fits well within his search for virility.

The Chapmans’ Death is made of bronze imitating plastic. It shows two seemingly plastic dolls, one male, one female, on an inflatable mattress, in the “69” sexual position. The associated sculpture Sex is yet another version of Great Deeds Against the Dead in which the corpses are reduced to bones. The head skewered on top of the tree is now a laughing skull, with a clownish red nose, that overlooks Death, like Hapocrates overlooking the false dream of love. The twisting of the logical attribution of the titles between the two parts, adds to the roguish tone of the installation.

Contrary to those by Fuseli, the Chapmans’ works don’t seem to bear a sense of “sin” or guilt. The artists have indeed denied any moral undertone in their own work, and dismissed the validity of Jeff Koons’ pornographic works as “being really reactionary”, “frighteningly Christian”, “conservative”, seeking  “to assert real moral closures”, expressing “this notion that abject or transgressive material can only exist […] if it’s in the service to  (sic) some redemptive renunciation of itself”.[108] Unlike Fuseli who blames women for purportedly having a “perverse” sexuality, the Chapmans associate deviant – pornographic, homophobic, paedophiliac, sado-masochistic – sexuality to the unchallenged control of capitalism over the life of individuals: “We’ve always argued that pornography is the perfect representation of twentieth-century sexuality because it hints at sex through an act of reproduction and repetition”.[109] The association of Sex and Death in the Turner prize installation – as in many of their works – underpins the idea that mass consumption, like pornography, leads to aporia. It silences the individual in a frenzy of repetitive and boring acts. They express a will to shake off this passivity in order to recoup energy through the liberation of unconscious powers. Their explanations regarding the Little Death Machine (1992), a seemingly autoerotic device, reflects this:

In its infancy the Little Death Machine explored the missing link between homo sapiens and a parallel mecanospheric sentience which has, er… clandestinely crept up on (or behind the back of) the arrogant apperceptual hegemony of human consciousness.[110]

[M]achinic life is death-driven [it] is as effectively influenced, generated-by and subject-to a human unconscious as it is by human consciousness.[111]
[H]uman conscious is a forensic smear on the evolution of a machinic unconscious… ha, ha, ha! [112]

Therefore the terrors embedded in Fuseli’s works regarding a loss of control – of women, of one’s artistic power – are not comparable to the anxiety regarding the loss of socialist teleology that we have ascribed to the works of the Chapmans. Unlike Fuseli’s, their art is not meant to cure people from their neurosis: “We're not psychiatrists and we decline the invitation to treat the spectator as analysand.”[113] They see the “neurotic” expression of fetishism, violence and voyeurism as a way to channel unconscious energy back into the conscious. They prefer “psychosis”, a state of loss of control, whereby the forces of the unconscious dominate the ego:  “The Freud-Newtonian theory of resistances suggests neurosis as an inefficient or blocked passage of energy residing within the organism, while psychosis suggests superconductive discharge because it is uninhibited.”[114] They ascribe to psychotic energy the capacity to liberate occult forces and to debunk the concept of rational individual existence and regard the fact that the Little Machine suddenly started to destroy itself, as if possessed by a “dark, psychotic energy”,[115] as the metaphor of this liberation: the machine was setting itself free of “monadic identity and the metaphysics of authenticity”.[116]

Despite their assertion that they emit no moral judgement, it can be inferred from these statements that their work is indeed linked to the Moral Law. Not that it is concerned with restoring it, but rather with getting rid of the feeling of guilt and the shame associated with it, a shame that tends to be paralysing and to unduly consume energy.[117] They do it through a strategy found in most Gothic artists, that is, to combine elements of terror with the grotesque, the latter buffering the former, by mocking it. [118] In addition they present them with a rogue tone akin to the picaresque,[119] which is also a key feature in some eighteenth-century Gothic literary works – from the Castle of Otranto to The Monk[120] - as well as of Henry Fuseli’s works, but is foreign to William Blake’s sensitivity. The analysis of the picaresque by Bernhard Malkmus will attempt to clarify this last point.

 

The picaresque: an individualist attempt to regain control in a changing social paradigm

Bernhard Malkmus, in a text on the picaresque narratology of Der Nazi und der Friseur, writes that “the picaresque hero embodies both the victim of social circumstances and the potential of human beings to survive the severest hardships by virtue of their ingenuity.”[121] The hero shows “dependence on society, and how his dependence turns into a kind of depravity from which he can only be disentangled by dissociating himself from society while simultaneously playing the sycophant at the core of society.”[122] Such ambivalence is central to the work of the Chapmans: while suggesting that their work is about capitalism, the brothers assert that it has no political meaning: “[In Fucking Hell the] content itself is a kind of red herring...[O]ne of the things we’ve tried to do is to avoid […] the speculative motivations of what the work is.” [123] Likewise they contend that The Chapman Family Collection (2002) made of seemingly “primitive” artworks that turn out to be gnawing McDonald icons, “is a sham […] there’s no single message – such as, say, a critique of the colonisation of global capitalism.”[124] Rather than being politically motivated, their art is the expression of a post-modern loss of faith in the possibility of an international and classless brotherhood, in the manner of the Bauhaus:  “If there’s any idealistic principle in the work, it’s the humour. It cements social relations.”[125] By organizing the encounter between an impoverished work and a well-meaning viewer in the sacred space of the gallery, they hope to produce a surge of “energy” but “the only energy that motivates us […] is this hysterical laughter […] We do intend […] to entrap the viewer in a position of laughter. So the question becomes not what the sculpture means, but what meaning is implied when the viewer laughs at the sculpture.”[126]

Like the picaro who, “by pretending and faking roles, [can] observe the forces at work behind the stage [choosing] to succumb to the histrionic character of social life to an even greater extent than anyone else,”[127] the Chapmans purport to attack the principles on which artistic value is based  – its critical and redeeming capacity – while being part of the critical dialogue. They enjoy playing with the viewer’s desire to see the work, by placing him in an embarrassing voyeuristic position, or to take advantage of the critic’s need to review art works, by forcing him to listen to their inept logorrhoea. They also mock the “serious” masters they purport to be inspired by. The double play between the title and the representation of Ubermensch suggests that the work critics both the excessive power of reason and Nietzsche’s proposed escape from it. Their Little Death Machine that produces mechanistic desire seems to ridicule Duchamp’s Grand Verre and Seething Id, 1994 to parody Bataille’s “Pineal eye”.[128] The artists thus manifest their power to subdue the viewer and manipulate his reaction, as well as to contrive the “masters” to serve their own little game. An analysis of their “enrichment” of Goya’s print Esto es peor, n° 37 of the Disasters of War series (c. 1810-1820), is another example of this controlling process: where Goya shows a man comically riding on a branch on which he is in fact impaled, turning to the viewer with his open mouth as if protesting over his uncomfortable position, the Chapmans transform his face into that of a white clown. The figure changes from comic, stupid and triggering the viewer’s empathy, to dreadful, accusative and thus unworthy of compassion.[129]
 

In 1819, Goya painted a scene from the novel El Lazarillo de Tormes, that showed a blind man smelling the mouth of the young Larazillo in order to verify if he has eaten his sausage: “So his nose and the black, half-chewed sausage both left my mouth at the same time,” says the author speaking as if he were Lazarillo.[130] The vision of the open mouth of the child into which enters the long nose of the blind man, and its consequence – not visible in the painting – the surge of a “black half-chewed sausage”, is reminiscent of the Chapman Fuckface series in which mouth and nose are similarly dominant and suggestive of the lowest instincts. It foregrounds the picaresque[131] nature of their children who, like Lazarillo with vomiting, express a will of power in the face of powerful oldies – the class of land owners – that attempt to “fuck them” symbolically.

Yet Goya’s laughter seems to convey some positive endeavour – the hope that the world might be redeemed by love and compassion[132] – whereas the hysterical laughter of the brothers is somber and nihilistic. Modern times, suggests Malkmus, with their accelerated social changes, have increased the presence of the picaresque and altered it:  “The modern picaro […] is aware of the fact that he is a hollow man […] his home is the evanescence of social structures”.[133] Fitting the genre’s “[p]erpetual oscillation between self-praise and self-debunking”  their work seems to be similarly related to issues “of social communication and confidence”.[134] A mud painting called “We are artists” (1991), a satire of a work by Richard Long, sums up their ambiguities:

“We are sore-eyed scopophiliac oxymorons. Or, at least, we are disenfranchised aristocrats under siege from our feudal heritage. […] The future remains excluded. But […] we phantasise emancipation from this liberal polity, into a superheavyweight no-holds-barred all-in mud wrestling league, a scatological aesthetics for the tired of seeing.”[135]

Their dialogic discourse, combined with a carnivalesque laughter, reveals the chiasm within a society that purports to have an ethic of care but allows the alienation of the individual in the service of corporations: “We’re producing objects for the chattering classes…We try to stop the chatter.”[136] As true picaros, their real objective is not to fight for bygone social solidarities but to regain power for themselves: “[I]t’s a kind of reluctance to be involved with the mechanisms of power, negotiating who has the power, by turning what you don’t have into power.”[137]

 

CONCLUSION

Famous among the group of the Young British Artists for their grinning images, the Chapman brothers distinguish themselves from the rest of the group by their theatrical installations and dark narratives, inspired by horror movies. Their grotesque objects subvert social consensus about morality and aesthetics by producing child dummies performing sexual activities in dark bushes, adding a clown face on authentic Goya’s prints of the series Disasters of War or setting up a giant model of a concentration camp wherein miniature Nazi soldiers are engaged in orgiastic activities. Their use of macabre installations to unsettle the spectator’s expectations about the Good or the Bad seems somewhat in line with William Blake’s and Henry Fuseli’s spectral figures. They share a common aim to subvert the social order in order to reenergize it. Like Blake and Fuseli, the Chapman brothers express a revolt against the perceived narrow social and ethical conventions of the middle-class, considered as a hindrance to the spiritual and intellectual development to which the artists, and the collectors they represent, aspire.

Much like their eighteenth-century predecessors, they do it by transferring the methods and vocabulary of popular horror into the high art world, challenging the rules of taste, dominated by a conservative upper bourgeoisie. Supported by tenants of the new media economy that came to dominate Britain in the late 1990s – of which Charles Saatchi is a key representative – the Chapmans, like other YBAs, managed to revitalize the art scene through a double edge vocabulary, both horrific and witty, critical of the system and complicit of it, a typically picaresque strategy that is also that of Fuseli – but not of Blake. They thus succeeded in moving up the social ladder, like Fuseli and unlike Blake. Yet their work remains distinct from Fuseli’s and Blake’s on several grounds. It presents a more pessimistic view regarding its own Promethean power. Its strategy of taking desublimation to exponential levels – of being “inside the Death drive” – mirroring the violent outputs of the Society of Spectacle, produces a limited and repetitive vocabulary, oftentimes readily imported from the “video nasties” with little enrichment. It may not maintain its edge over time like that of Fuseli and Blake who imbued their art with their own world and brandished it to the face of a society in transition. At present the Chapman brothers have fallen out of favour of the art market. Yet they may find solace in knowing that so did Blake, in his time.

 

Bibliography

Chapman, Dinos and Chapman, Jake, Chapmanworld: Dinos and Jake Chapman, London: Institute of Contemporary Arts, 1996, np. Contains a foreword by Klaus Biesenbach and Emma Dexter (1 p.), David Falconer, “Doctorin’ the Retardis” (4 p.), and Douglas Fogle, “A Scatological Aesthetics for the Tired of Seeing” (7 p.).

Chapman, Dinos and Chapman, Jake, Insult to injury, Göttingen: SteidlMack, 2003, np. Contains Jake Chapman, “Insult to injury: the Marriage of Reason and Squalor”,

Eaves, Morris, The Counter-arts conspiracy: art and industry in the age of Blake, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992

Ezrahn, Sidra Dekoven, “Acts of Impersonation: Barbaric Spaces as Theater”, in Norman L. Kleeblatt (ed.), Mirroring Evil: Nazi imagery, recent art, New York: Rutgers University Press, 2002, pp. 17-38.

Grünenberg, Christopher (ed.), Jake and Dinos Chapman: Bad art for bad people [exhibition, Tate Liverpool, 15 December 2006- 4 March 2007], Liverpool [England] London, New York: Tate Liverpool in association with Tate publishing, 2006. Contains Christopher Grünenberg, “Attraction-Repulsion Machines: The Art of Jake and Dinos Chapman”, pp. 11-35; Christopher Turner, “Great Deeds against dead artists: how the Chapman brothers nearly changed their name to Goya”, pp. 37-53, Clarrie Wallis, “Interview with Jake and Dinos Chapman”, pp. 121-123, Tanya Barson, “Powers of laughter”, p. 67-85; Dave Beech, “Shock: A report on contemporary art”, pp. 99-110.

Grünenberg, Christopher, Gothic: Transmutations of horror in late twentieth century art, Boston: MIT Press, 1997, extract in Williams, Gilda, The Gothic, London, Cambridge, Mass.: Whitechapel, MIT Press, 2007, pp. 38-44.

Flood, Richard (ed.), “Brilliant! New Art from London [exhibition Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 22 October 1995 - 7 January 1996, and Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, 17 February - 14 April 1996] Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1995. Contains Richard Flood “Acknowledgements”, p. 4 and Douglas Fogle, “Interview with Dinos and Jake Chapman, ‘Our Own Work is crap’”, p. 20-22.

Harris, Jonathan Inside the Death Drive, excess and apocalypse in the world of the Chapman brothers, Liverpool: Tate Liverpool critical forum, 2009. Contains Jonathan Harris, “Inside the Death Drive, a conversation between Jake Chapman and Jonathan Harris”, pp. 173-212; Sylvère Lotringer, “Report to the Academy”, pp. 213-235.

Kilminster, Richard and Varcoe, Ian (eds.), Culture, Modernity, and Revolution: essays in honour of Zygmunt Bauman, New York: Routledge, 1995.

Levy-Strauss, Claude, “Le Père Noël supplicié”, Les Temps modernes, n°77, 1952, p. 1572-1590, reprinted in Incidence 2, Autumn 2006, p. 193-208.

Lewis, Barbara, “An American circus: the Lynch victim as clown”, in David Robb (ed.), Clowns, fools and picaros: popular forms in theatre, fiction and film (Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, 2007).

Malkmus, Bernhard, “Picaresque narratology: Lazarillo de Tormes and Edgar Hilsenrath’s Der Nazi und der Friseur, in David Robb (ed.), Clowns, fools and picaros: popular forms in theatre, fiction and film, Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, 2007.

Myrone, Martin, Gothic nightmares: Fuseli, Blake and the romantic imagination [exhibition, Tate Britain, 15 February-1 May 2006], London: Tate publishing, 2006. Contains Martin Myrone, “Fuseli to Frankenstein: the visual arts in the context of the Gothic”, pp. 31-39; Myrone, “Fairies and fatal women”, pp. 151-175.

Rau, Petra, Our Nazis: Representations of Fascism in Contemporary Literature and Film, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013.

Ramkalawon, Jennifer, “Jake and Dinos Chapman's ‘Disasters of War’, Print Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 1 (March 2001), pp. 64-77, p. 75.

Rosenblum, Robert and Chapman, Jake, Unholy Libel, London: Gagosian Gallery, 1997.

Rosenthal, Norman (ed.), Apocalypse: Beauty and horror in contemporary art [exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 23 sept.-15 dec. 2000] London, Royal Academy of Arts, 2000.

Sesena, Natacha, Goya y las mujeres, Madrid: Taurus, 2004.

Sha, Richard C., Perverse romanticism: aesthetics and sexuality in Britain, 1750-1832, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

Spooner, Catherine, Contemporary Gothic, London: Reaktion, 2006.

Stalabrass, Julian, High Art Lite, British Art in the 1990s, London, New York: Verso, 1999.

 Storch, Margaret, “’The Spectrous fiend’ cast out: Blake’s crisis at Felpham”, Sons and Adversaries: Women in William Blake and D. H. Lawrence, Knoxville, University of Tenesse Press, 1990.

Sylvester, David, About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948-96, London: Random House, 2012.

Thompson, Gary R. (ed.), The Gothic imagination: essays in dark romanticism, Pullman Washington (Wash.): Washington State University Press, 1974.

Zinoman, Jason, Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders gave us nightmares, London: Penguin, 2011.

Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the holocaust, Ithaca, New York, London: Cornell University Press, 1989.

 

Digital references:

Blake Archives, on line blakearchive.org.

Chapman, Jake, The Marriage of Reason & Squalor (2008), presented by the author to David Velasco“ in ‘Jake Chapman‘, Artforum, 10.31.08, on line http://artforum.com/words/id=21383/

Dorment, Richard, “Inspired vandalism”, The Telegraph, 10/11/2001, on line http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3593618/Inspired-vandalism.html.

Bataille, George, “The Pineal eye”, Visions of ExcessSelected Writings 1927-1939, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1985, pp. 79-90, on line on googlebooks.

Damianovic, Maia, “Interview”, Journal of Contemporary art, 1997, on line http://jca-online.com/interviews.html.

Enarsson, Jenny, “Review: The Rape of Creativity”, BBC, April 2003, on line www.bbc.co.uk/oxford/stage/2003/04/chapman_review.shtml.

Harper, Stephen, "Zombies, Malls, and the Consumerism Debate: George Romero's Dawn of the Dead", Americana, Fall 2011, vol. 1, issue 2, on line http://www.americanpopularculture.com/journal/articles/fall_2002/harper.htm.

Kermode, Mark, Chapman Bros. Horror Exhibition Liverpool, 2007, on line http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OG-qM8UhDM.

Molyneux, John, "State of the art: A review of the 'Sensation' exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, September-December 1997", International Socialism, n° 79, Jul. 1998, on line http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/isj79/molyneux.htm.

Novak, Maximillian E. “Gothic Fiction and the Grotesque”, NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, Vol. 13, n° 1, Autumn 1979, Durham, N. C., Duke University Press, on line http://www.jstor.org/stable/1344951.

Vial Kayser, Christine, “Myra de Marcus Harvey, nouvelle figure de Méduse”, MuseMedusa, on line http://musemedusa.com/.

 

 

 

[1] Martin Myrone, “Fuseli to Frankenstein: the visual arts in the context of the Gothic”, in Martin Myrone (ed.), Gothic Nightmares: Fuseli, Blake and the romantic imagination [exhibition, Tate Britain, 15 February-1 May 2006] London: Tate publishing, 2006, pp. 31-39, p. 34.

[2] Myrone, “Fuseli to Frankenstein”, in Myrone, 2006, p. 39.

[3] Myrone, “Fuseli to Frankenstein”, in Myrone, 2006, p. 38.

[4] Christopher Grünenberg (ed.), Jake and Dinos Chapman: Bad art for bad people [exhibition, Tate Liverpool, 15 December 2006- 4 March 2007], Liverpool [England] London, New York: Tate Liverpool in association with Tate publishing, 2006.

[5] John Molyneux, “State of the art: A review of the 'Sensation' exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, September-December 1997”, International Socialism, n° 79, Jul. 1998, on line http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/isj79/molyneux.htm (accessed 20 May 2014).

[6] Jennifer Ramkalawon, “Jake and Dinos Chapman's ‘Disasters of War’, Print Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 1 (March 2001), pp. 64-77, p. 75.

[7] Sidra Dekoven Ezrahn, “Acts of Impersonation: Barbaric Spaces as Theatre”, in Norman L. Kleeblatt (ed.), Mirroring Evil, New York: Rutgers University Press, 2002, pp. 17-38, p. 34.

[8] Julian Stalabrass, High Art Lite, British art in the 1990s, London, New York: Verso, 2001, p. 148.

[9] Christopher Grünenberg, Gothic: Transmutations of horror in late twentieth century art, Boston: MIT Press, 1997, quoting Peter N Stearns, American cool: Constructing a twentieth-century emotional style, New York: New York university press, 1994, footnote 68, extract reproduced in Gilda Williams, The Gothic, London, Cambridge, Mass.: Whitechapel, MIT Press, 2007, pp. 38-44, p. 38.

[10] David Falconer, “Doctorin’ the Retardis”, in Dinos Chapman and Jake Chapman, Chapmanworld: Dinos and Jake Chapman, London: Institute of Contemporary Arts, 1996, np.

[11] Christopher Grünenberg, “Attraction-Repulsion Machines: The Art of Jake and Dinos Chapman”, in Grünenberg, 2006, p. 11-35, p. 28.

[12] Grünenberg, in Grünenberg, 2006, p. 11.

[13] Sylvère Lotringer, “Report to the Academy”, in Jonathan Harris, Inside the Death Drive, excess and apocalypse in the world of the Chapman brothers, Liverpool: Tate Liverpool critical forum, 2009, pp. 213-235, p. 214.

[14] They refer to Nietzsche in Jonathan Harris, “Inside the Death Drive, a conversation between Jake Chapman and Jonathan Harris”, in Jonathan Harris, Inside the Death Drive, excess and apocalypse in the world of the Chapman brothers, Liverpool: Tate Liverpool critical forum, 2009, pp. 173-212, p. 178; to Bataille in ibid., pp. 180, 185 and in “ Jake Chapman on George Bataille: an interview with Simon Baker”, Papers of Surrealism, 1, winter 2003, p. 8, on line http://www.surrealismcentre.ac.uk/publications/papers/journal/index.htm (accessed 20 May 2014).

[15] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 177.

[16] See Coleridge criticism of Lewis’ The Monk, quoted by Maximillian E. Novak, “Gothic Fiction and the Grotesque”, Novel: A Forum on Fiction, Vol. 13, n° 1, Autumn 1979, Durham, N.C: Duke University Press, on line http://www.jstor.org/stable/1344951.

[17] Myrone, “Fuseli to Frankenstein”, in Myrone, 2006, p. 38.

[18] Grünenberg mentions influence of more intellectual horror film makers such as Alfred Hitchcock on Douglas Gordon, David Cronenberg on Gregory Crewdson. Grünenberg, 1997, in Williams, 2007, p. 40-41.

[19] Grünenberg mentions their knowledge of Blake in passing with that of Goya and Rodin. Grünenberg, in Grünenberg, 2006, p. 13.

[20] Images of the Chapman works are to be found on line on the Saatchi Gallery website http://www.saatchigallery.com/aipe/jake_dinos_chapman.htm.

[21] Julie Burchill suggested the work was immoral because it helped build the “wall of affectlessness ” already prevalent in contemporary society (Julie Burchill, “Death of innocence”, The Guardian, 14 Nov. 1997 (page unknown), quoted by Stalabrass, 2001, p. 208. John Molyneux suggested that even if the work was ironic and a critic of the commoditisation of children (suggested by their trainers) it was inappropriate: “I am by no means convinced that it is even possible to play ironically with titillating paedophiliac visual material [and in any case] the paedophiliac element of the mannequins overwhelms the commodity critique of the trainers.” Molyneux, 1998, np.

[22] Maia Damianovic, “Interview”, Journal of Contemporary art, 1997, on line http://jca-online.com/interviews.html (accessed 20 May 2014).

[23] Jake Chapman in a filmed interview with Dinos, by Mark Kermode, in Mark Kermode, Chapman Bros. Horror Exhibition Liverpool, 2007, on line http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OG-qM8UhDM (accessed 20 May 2014).

[24] Jake Chapman answering Kermode, in Kermode, 2007.

[25] Jake Chapman in Robert Rosenblum and Jake Chapman, Unholy Libel, London: Gagosian Gallery, 1997, p. 150, quoted by Christopher Turner, “Great Deeds against dead artists: how the Chapman brothers nearly changed their name to Goya”, in Grünenberg, 2006, pp. 37-53, p. 42.

[26] Damianovic, 1997.

[27] Catherine Spooner, Contemporary Gothic, London: Reaktion, 2006, p. 61. Spooner remarks that a corpse bore personal features – tattoos – and was the only one to elicit discomfort and unease in the viewer.

[28] Douglas Fogle, “A Scatological Aesthetics for the Tired of Seeing”, Dinos Chapman, Jake Chapman (ed.), Chapmanworld: Dinos and Jake Chapman, London: Institute of Contemporary Arts, 1996, np.

[29] Jake Chapman in Douglas Fogle, “Interview with Dinos and Jake Chapman, ‘Our Own Work is crap’” in Richard Flood (ed.), Brilliant! New Art from London [exhibition Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 22 October 1995 - 7 January 1996, and Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, 17 February - 14 April 1996] Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1995, pp. 20-22, p. 22.

[30] Natacha Sesena, Goya y las mujeres, Madrid: Taurus, 2004.

[31] Christopher Turner, in Grünenberg, 2006, p. 42 quoting Jake Chapman from Jake Chapman, “Insult to injury: the Marriage of Reason and Squalor”, in Dinos Chapman and Jake Chapman, Insult to injury: the Marriage of Reason and Squalor, Göttingen: SteidlMack, 2003, np.

[32] Stephen Harper,  “Zombies, Malls, and the Consumerism Debate: George Romero's Dawn of the Dead”, Americana, vol. 1, issue 2, Fall 2011, on line http://www.americanpopularculture.com/journal/articles/fall_2002/harper.htm (accessed 20 May 2014).

[33] Grünenberg, 1997, in Williams, 2006, p. 38.

[34] Jonathan Harris, “Inside the Death Drive, a conversation between Jake Chapman and Jonathan Harris”, in Jonathan Harris, Inside the Death Drive, excess and apocalypse in the world of the Chapman brothers, Liverpool: Tate Liverpool critical forum, 2009, pp. 173-212.

[35] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 177.

[36] Harris, in Harris, 2009, pp. 175- 176.

[37] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 183.

[38] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 189.

[39] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 176.

[40] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 177.

[41] Petra Rau, Our Nazis: Representations of Fascism in Contemporary Literature and Film, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013, p. 3, accessible on line http://www.questia.com/read/122594880.

[42] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 181.

[43] Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the holocaust, Ithaca, New York, London: Cornell University Press, 1989, p. 130, quote from Richard Kilminster and Ian Varcoe (eds.), Culture, Modernity, and Revolution: essays in honour of Zygmunt Bauman, New York: Routledge, 1995, p. 222, on line http://www.questia.com/read/103119802.

[44] Bauman,1989, p. 137 quote from Kilminster and Varcoe, 1995, p. 222.

[45] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 201.

[46] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 178.

[47] Richard Dorment, “Inspired vandalism”, The Telegraph, 10/11/2001, on line http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3593618/Inspired-vandalism.html (accessed 20 May 2014).

[48] Harris, Harris, 2009, p. 199.

[49] Spooner, 2006, p. 102.

[50] Kermode, 2007.

[51] Jason Zinoman, Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders gave us nightmares, London: Penguin, 2011, p. 4.

[52] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 208.

[53] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 209.

[54] A critic of Chinese Cultural Revolution was undertaken by the Communist Party itself in the 1980s but led to the crushing of the Tiananmen demonstrations in 1989.

[55] Harris, in Harris, 2009 p. 209.

[56] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 210.

[57] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 177.

[58] Jake Chapman in conversation with Christopher Turner, quoted by Turner, in Grünenberg, 2006, p. 42.

[59] Harris, in 2009, p. 178.

[60] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 189.

[61] “Signal d’épouvante, mais aussi arme défensive contre les pouvoirs du mal, elle apparaît plus volontiers en ces époques où, dans l’histoire des sociétés, dans le cours des mentalités […] s’éprouvent un trouble, un désarroi, une incertitudes faces aux connaissances acquises. […] [L]a Gorgone, en tant que divinité incarnant les puissances du désordre et du radicalement autre que l’homme […] renvoie à ces périodes de flottement entre culture et sauvagerie […] qui sont aussi des périodes de passage.”, Jean Clair, Méduse. Contribution à une anthropologie des arts visuels, Paris, Gallimard, 1989, p. 29-30 (translation by the author), quoted in Christine Vial Kayser, “Myra de Marcus Harvey, nouvelle figure de Méduse”, MuseMedusa, on line http://musemedusa.com/ (accessed 20 May 2014).

[62] See Kermode, 2007.

[63] Claude Levy-Strauss, “Le Père Noël supplicié”, Les Temps modernes, n°77, 1952, p. 1572-1590, reprinted in Incidence 2, Autumn 2006, p. 193-208.

[64] Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle [1967], thesis 9, Black & Red, 1977, on line http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/debord/society.htm (accessed 20 May 2014).

[65] Morris Eaves, The Counter-arts conspiracy: art and industry in the age of Blake, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992, p. 159.

[66] Myrone, “Fuseli to Frankenstein”, in Myrone, 2006, pp. 31-40, p. 33.

[67] “Proverbs of Hell”, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790, object 8 (Bentley 8, Erdman 8, Keynes 8) on line on Blake Archive, http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/transcription.xq?objectid=mhh.c.illbk.08 (accessed 20 May 2014).

[68] The Four Zoas, 1797, FZ9-138. 30-32; E406, on line on Blake Archive, http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/erdman.xq?id=b2.3 (accessed 20 May 2014).

[69] The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, object 3 (Bentley 3, Erdman 3, Keynes 3), on line http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/transcription.xq?objectid=mhh.d.illbk.03&java=no (accessed 20 May 2014).

[70] “Am I not Bacon & Newton & Locke who teach Humility to Man! Who teach Doubt & Experiment & my two Wings Voltaire: Rousseau. ”, says the Spectre that commands Albion to obey Reason in Jerusalem The Emanation of The Giant Albion, 1804, object 54 (Bentley 54, Erdman 54, Keynes 54), on line on Blake Archive, http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/object.xq?objectid=jerusalem.e.illbk.54&java=no (accesed 20 May 2014).

[71] The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, object 5 (Bentley 5, Erdman 5, Keynes 5), on line on Blake Archive, http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/transcription.xq?objectid=mhh.d.illbk.05&java=no (accessed 20 May 2014).

[72] The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, object 4 (Bentley 4, Erdman 4, Keynes 4), on line on Blake Archive,

http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/transcription.xq?objectid=mhh.d.illbk.04 (accessed 20 May 2014).

[73] Visions of daughters of Albion (engraved in 1793) object 10 (Bentley 10, Erdman 7, Keynes 7) see copy from Yale Center for British Art

 on line on Blake Archive, http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/object.xq?objectid=vda.i.illbk.10&java=no (accessed 20 May 2014).

[74] Richard C. Sha 2009, p. 184. Sha quotes four lines of the Four Zoas to illustrate his point: “Terrific ragd the Eternal Wheels of intellect terrific ragd [but] Luvah back reversd/ Downwards & outwards consuming in the wars of Eternal Death” (FZ I: 556-59), on line on Blake Archive, http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/erdman.xq?id=b2.3 (accessed 20 May 2014).

[75] The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, object 4 (Bentley 24, Erdman 24, Keynes 24), Blake Archive, on line.

[76] Martin Myrone suggests that “Prometheus has been used as a metaphor for artistic creativity since the fifteenth century” but that “the daring, dangerous associations of the figure came back to the fore in the last third of the eighteenth century, potentially also taking on associations with sexual virility.”, Myrone (catalogue), “Perverse classicism”, in Myrone, 2006, p. 53.

[77] See “Jake Chapman's The Marriage of Reason & Squalor (2008), presented by the author to David Velasco” in Artforum, 31 Oct. 2008, on line http://artforum.com/words/id=21383 (accessed 20 May 2014).

[78] Wallis, “Interview with Jake and Dinos Chapman”, in Grünenberg, 2006, pp. 121-123, p. 122.

[79] “… the rationality of the ruled is always the weapon of the rulers”, Bauman, 1989, p. 142 in Kilminster and Varcoe,1995, p. 222.

[80] Harris, in Harris 2009, p. 178.

[81] Harris, in Harris 2009, p. 178.

[82] TV series by Claudia Lonow, from Hammer studios (1998-2001). In one scene a real estate agent dreams that he kills his wife and a spectral voice repeats “you shouldn’t have done it”.

[83] Damianovich, 1995.

[84] “Laughing Song”, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, 1789-1794, object 21 (Bentley 15, Erdman 15, Keynes 15), on line on Blake Archive, http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/object.xq?objectid=songsie.c.illbk.21&java=no (accessed 20 May 2014).

[85] The Book of Thel, 1795, object 8 (Bentley 8, Erdman 6, Keynes 6), on line on Blake Archive, http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/transcription.xq?objectid=thel.b.illbk.08 (accessed 20 May 2014).

[86] “Infant Sorrow”, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, 1789-1794, Erdman 797, on line on Blake Archive, http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/erdman.xq?id=z1.6.3.2.17 (accessed 20 May 2014).

[87] “Infant Sorrow”, Erdman 799, on line Blake Archive, http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/erdman.xq?id=z1.6.3.2.17 (accessed 20 May 2014).

[88] See Margaret Storch, “’The Spectrous fiend’ cast out: Blake’s crisis at Felpham”, Sons and Adversaries: Women in William Blake and D. H. Lawrence, Knoxville, University of Tenesse Press, 1990, pp. 115-135, p. 115.

[89] Storch relates this event to the artistic and financial serenity that Blake had just found while living with Hayley at Felpham. Yet she suggests that commercial failure alone cannot explain the 20 years sense of guilt. She argues that it is more likely related to the spectral presence of his father’s indifference. She sustains her claim with a quote from the poem “With happiness stretched across the hill” of 1802 that recalls a dream in which the poet overcomes the power of his dead father and brothers, who cannot withstand his “terrible wrath”.

[90] According to Silvan Tomkins when an affect-shame bind”has been created during childhood in a specific context, the same affect will trigger the feeling of shame in a different context: during adulthood “If the noisy laughter of childhood has been controlled by shaming, the resultant bind can evoke shame to any source of enjoyment. […] If fear has been controlled by shame, the individual becomes vulnerable to shame whenever he senses danger”, Silvan Tomkins, Affect-Imagery-Consciousness, 2 vol., vol. II, New York: Springer publ., 1963, p. 227.

[91] Quote by Richard Flood, “Acknowledgements”, Brilliant!, 1995, p. 4.

[92] Myrone, “Fuseli to Frankenstein”, in Myrone, 2006, p. 39.

[93] Myrone, “Fuseli to Frankenstein”, in Myrone, 2006, p. 39.

[94] Kermode, 2007.

[95] See the description on line on the British museum website, http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1438276&partId=1&people=124383&peoA=124383-2-23&page=1(accessed 20 May 2014).

[96] “Sunt gemini somni partae; quarum altera fertur/Cornea; qua veris facilis datur exitus umbris./Altera candenti perfecta nitens elephanto:/Seà falsa ad coelum mittunt insomnia manes.” (Now twofold are the Gates of Sleep, whereof the one, men say, Is wrought of horn, and ghosts of sooth thereby win easy way, The other clean and smooth is wrought of gleaming ivory, But lying dreams the nether Gods send up to heaven thereby. (Aeneid, lib. VI, sub fine.), translation William Morris, 1900, on line http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29358/29358-h/29358-h.htm (accessed 20 May 2014).

[97] Marina Warner mentions “Fuseli’s fetichism expressed through his obsession with women’s hair-styling” in Marina Warner, “Invented plots: The Enchanted puppets and fairy doubles of Henry Fuseli”, in Myrone, 2006, pp. 23-29, p. 27.

[98] In his comment of the catalogue n° 123, Myrone suggests that the presence of “ sole female hand over folds of clothes evokes a whole tradition of more or less explicit images of women masturbating”. Myrone, “Fairies and fatal women”, in Myrone 2006, pp. 151-175, p. 175.

[99] See also The Universal Fortune Teller: Or Mrs Bridget’s (commonly called the Norwood Gipsy) by Myrone, “Fairies and Fatal women ”, in Myrone, 2006, p. 151: “To dream of seeing strange apparitions/As devils, hobgoblins, and such visions/Does show thy love, or thy sweetheart/Hath a fair face but devil’s heart.”.

[100] Richard C. Sha, Perverse romanticism: aesthetics and sexuality in Britain, 1750-1832, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

[101] See catalogue n° 121, Henry Fuseli, Woman torturing a child or a small man (c. 1815-1820), Kunsthaus, Zurich, in Myrone, 2006, p. 173. See also catalogue n° 91, The Night-hag visiting Lapland witches or Lapland Orgies, c. 1794-6, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

[102] Henry Fuseli, “Aphorisms on Art” (c. 1788-1818), n° 226, in John Knowles, The Life and Writings of Henry Fuseli, London, 1831, III, p. 144, quoted in Myrone, “Fairies and fatal women”, Myrone, 2006, p. 166. See also: “Female affection is ever in proportion to the impression of superiority in the object. Woman fondles, pities, despises and forgets what is below her; she values, bears and wrangles with her equal; she adores what is above her.”, Henry Fuseli in Eudo Mason, The Mind of Henry Fuseli: Selections from his writings with an introductory essay, London, 1951, p. 145) in ibid., p. 151.

[103] Martin Myrone suggests that “Prometheus has been used as a metaphor for artistic creativity since the fifteenth century” but that “the daring, dangerous associations of the figure came back to the fore in the last third of the eighteenth-century, potentially also taking on associations with sexual virility.”, Myrone (catalogue), “Perverse classicism”, in Myrone, 2006, p. 53.

[104] See Frayling, in Myrone 2006, p. 13.

[105] “Horror and loathsomeness in all its branches are equally banished from the painter’s and the poet’s province. Terror, as the chief ingredient of the Sublime, composes in all instances, and in the utmost extent of the word, fit material for both”, Henry Fuseli in the Analytical Review, Oct. 1792, quote by Christopher Frayling, “Fuseli’s The Nightmare, somewhere between the Sublime and the Ridiculous”, in Myrone, 2006, pp. 9-20, p. 13.

[106] Herman Melville, essay Hawthorn and his Mosses (1850), quote without page number by Nicolas K. Kiessling, “Demonic Dread: The Incubus figure in British literature”, in Gary R. Thompson (ed.), The Gothic imagination: essays in dark romanticism, Pullman Washington (Wash.): Washington State University Press, 1974, pp. 22-64, p. 64.

[107] “Wordsworth argued that when the mind was possessed with ‘personal fear,’ what is produced is merely ‘fear and degradation’ and he noted how easily the sublime could slip into the grotesque – a mixture of the "terrible and the ludicrous.”. See William Wordsworth, “The Sublime and the Beautiful” Prose Works W. J. B. Owen and Jane Worthington Smyser (ed.), Oxford: Clarendon, 1974, II, 354-60, quoted in Novak, Autumn 1979, ref. 36.

[108] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 200.

[109] Quoted in Turner, in Grünenberg, 2006, p. 42.

[110] Clarrie Wallis, in Grünenberg, 2006, p. 121.

[111] Wallis, in Grünenberg, 2006, p. 121.

[112] Wallis, in Grünenberg, 2006, p. 121.

[113] Damianovic, np.

[114] Damianovic, np.

[115] Wallis, in Grünenberg, 2006, p. 123.

[116] Wallis, in Grünenberg, 2006, p. 122.

[117] Tomkins, 1963, vol. I, p. 299.

[118] See the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition: “a style of decorative art characterized by fanciful or fantastic human and animal forms often interwoven with foliage or similar figures that may distort the natural into absurdity, ugliness, or caricature.”, on line http://www.merriam-webster.com/.

[119] See the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition: “of or relating to rogues or rascals; also:  of, relating to, suggesting, or being a type of fiction dealing with the episodic adventures of a usually roguish protagonist”, on line http://www.merriam-webster.com/.

[120] For an in depth discussion on the matter see Novak, 1979.

[121] Bernhard Malkmus, “Picaresque narratology: Lazarillo de Tormes and Edgar Hilsenrath’s Der Nazi und der Friseur”, in David Robb (ed.), Clowns, fools and picaros: popular forms in theatre, fiction and film, Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, 2007, pp. 211- 229, p. 211.

[122] Malkmus, in Robb, 2007, p. 211.

[123] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 177.

[124] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 200.

[125] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 199.

[126] Fogle, in Flood, p. 22.

[127] Malkmus, in Robb, 2007, p. 212.

[128] George Bataille, “The Pineal eye”,Visions of ExcessSelected Writings 1927-1939, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1985, pp. 79-90, on line on googlebooks (accessed 20 May 2014).

[129] The same process of turning a dead victim into a clown to ensure his moral harmlessness has been analyzed by Barbara Lewis in a case of lynching in Barbara Lewis, “An American circus: the Lynch victim as clown”, in David Robb, 2007, pp. 87- 100.

[130] Robert S. Rudder (ed.), The Life of Lazarillo of Tormes, his fortunes and misfortunes as told by himself, on line http://www.lazarillodetormes.com/ingles.htm (accessed 20 May 2014).

[131] For Bakhtin a body in which the parts “that are opened to the outside world […] the mouth, the genital organs, the breasts, the phallus, the potbelly, the nose,” are stressed is a “grotesque” body. In Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and his world, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984, pp. 26-27. According to Malkmus, this term involves the picaresque feeding on the social context.

[132] Sylvester suggests that Goya was pointing with praise and longing to the rare “dogooders” in his decadent environment. David Sylvester, About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948-96, New York, Random House, 2012, p. 254.

[133] Malkmus, in Robb, 2007, p. 212.

[134] Malkmus, in Robb, 2007, p. 212.

[135] Reproduced in Grünenberg, 2006, p. 82-83.

[136] Fogle, in Flood, 1995, p. 22.  See also Jenny Enarsson: “The point for the Chapman is not to make a statement but to press the right buttons and wind people up”, Jenny Enarsson, “Review: The Rape of Creativity”, BBC, April 2003, on line www.bbc.co.uk/oxford/stage/2003/04/chapman_review.shtml (accessed 20 May 2014).

[137] Harris, in Harris, 2009, p. 209.