The Chapman Brothers Team Up With Hitler

June 6, 2008 · Print This Article

Chapman Brothers Hippy Hitler
Brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman have taken pastoral paintings by Adolf Hitler added some psychedelic rainbows and hearts to the scene. Calling the work “If Hitler had been a Hippy How Happy Would We Be” the plan is to sell them as one piece. Taking the £115,000 work of Hitler and selling them for £685,000.

Chapman hoped the defacement of Hitler’s work, which includes landscapes, vistas of Roman ruins and still life, which the dictator painted when he was young, would have him “spinning”. The changes they had added meant it was no longer Hitler’s work, he added.

“If hell exists and Hitler exists in it, he would be spinning if he saw these. It’s not his work any more. It’s our work,” he said.

33 thoughts on “The Chapman Brothers Team Up With Hitler”

  1. serena says:

    Eh. I sort of would have rather gone to see the original Hitlers.

  2. Balzac says:

    This is the gimmick approach to art rearing its ugly head again.

    Lets piss on some holy books while were at it!

  3. Martha says:

    Why can’t they make prints of the original and alter the prints?

  4. duncan says:

    Oh, come on who doesn’t love an iconoclast?

  5. Iconodulists, iconophiles and we iconogenitors don’t love them, probably!
    Today most nefarious of the iconoclasts, I feel, are the iconophobics.

  6. duncan. says:

    Fair point sir.


  7. Actually, I have just wanted to use those terms for a long time and saw my chance. I’m easily amused, apparently.

  8. TheShark says:

    These guys never make work that isnt completely lame and sophomoric/locker room humor genre junk. -You never have to ask ‘what’s the gimmick?’ because thats all it ever is….from the looks of this piece, it isnt like they do anything interesting with Hitlers insipid mediocrity -beyond continuing it.

    For Hitler, (and unfortunately for everyone else,) mediocrity didn’t pan out -for these talentless fucks it obviously has; ironic -that they can take this trite trash that sent der Fuhrer first to the poorhouse in the 1920’s in Munich, then into hardscrabble world of post WW1 German politics, -and repackage it for mega bucks sale/consumption in the context of the colossal vapidity and venality of todays art world…….

  9. You’re exactly right Shark. So really they are “iconoemporoi” — ‘image merchants’.

  10. Richard says:

    I don’t think this rises to the level iconoclastic, too lazy, not enough thought. I think the gimmick laden offensive stuff is too easy a target. Time to up your game if you have resorted to buying Hitler’s watercolors.

  11. vanrijngo says:

    Vanrijngo says,…. well ain’t this just MFA wonderful,…. no longer a Hitler, but a Chapman brother’s,….. and they figure it made the work of art worth more and of their own? What a couple of asshole rainbow brothers, and a MFA sick joke. If this is supposed to be funny involving the MFA arts trying to still another artist’s works, even if it had to be someone like Hitler, then I’d say the fucking joke is on them. Who else’s works of art in history are they planning to steel next,….. Rembrandt and Vincent van Gogh?

  12. duncan. says:

    Check out what they do to Goya.

  13. The Shark says:

    fuck these talentless assholes -who cares?

  14. Richard says:

    Why Wesley, that may be the shortest message you have ever posted. I’m shocked! And completely accurate!

  15. Paul K says:

    I have only seen a few examples on the net so far and will see the show this weekend. I think most of you are all intellectually regressive. There is no difference here in the gathering and extension of pre-existing ideas and the development and generation of contemporary vehicles of thoughts to (what I glean from most of you by reading your comments) a more favoured situation of if they would have read Derrida, Lacan or developed on an idea deposited by Eyal Weizman. What the f%#k is your problem? Forget that you are insanely jealous of the success and subsequent wealth of the Chapman brothers. Look at the work, its foundations and its proposition for meaning. I think the work provides a fantastic platform for departure on all sorts of vulnerable and utopic ideas surrounding hope and failure, deposited in a man that we are taught to hate, they challenge us to read Hitler as a person, albeit slightly mis-guided, but a human, and no less than us. If a challenge like this can bring out such a regressed availability to be open, then I would say it is very far from a gimmick. And, If I had a lazy million, I’d buy the lot.

  16. duncan. says:

    Paul K,

    I secretly or not so secretly love the Chapman brothers. I was afraid Richard and Wesley would yell at me if I responded “I do!” to their open hostility.


    PS. F*** it. I think it is f***ing awesome.

    PPS. I think you might need like 10 lazy millions to buy the lot.

  17. Richard says:


    Your comments are atypically presumptive and obnoxious. This work is, in my opinion, lazy and derivative with a clear goal of trying to be glib and shocking. You spend you money how you see so fit, I don’t think these are terribly interesting.

    Duncan, since when are you scared of Wesley and I?


  18. Steve Hamann says:

    I would have preferred the Chapmans re-insert all the poor souls Hitler murdered or exiled back into the countryside.

    I think I like the abortion girl or the starving dog one better.

  19. duncan. says:

    The curse words hurt my feelings.


  20. duncan. says:

    All kidding aside.

    I just got off the phone with a friend that was frustrated by that fact that I would not immediately denounce this work as anti-semitic and sadly shocking for shocks sake.

    I was upset by their response and horrified that my reaction could be seen as an endorsement of anti-semitism. I felt at that moment, like my Canadian naivety had gotten the better of me and I had mis-stepped again. I can’t imagine that anyone would have seen these gestures as that hateful.

    I think the Chapman’s serve to remind us that the sanctified elements of culture enable power and that power is always about oppression. They situate things as unquestionable and fixed. They force us to stop critically assessing our surroundings and allow those concepts, words and images to hold a sway afforded to little else in our culture.

    It seems to me that this is what punk rock was about, breaking the unspoken codes that governed peoples lives. That by affronting those unspoken beliefs that could not be named, questioned or re-thought would break their dominance on individuals lives.

    Hitler’s fascism prescribed way of being, thinking and acting, and sought a control that would make only his way sanctified and unassailable. The Chapman’s are not resuscitating Hitler’s history and beliefs. The pictures use creator and history as a material in the creation of a new thing. A thing that “thumbs it nose” at that history, those acts, and and belief structure that attempts to sanctify the the holy or profane.

    Admittedly this makes me sound like a believer in the power of art but I guess that might be another element of my sad Canadian naivety. At worst it is a hack-ish shock art gesture, but as best it is a cleaver reminder not to enshrine heros or villains and think for ourselves.

    Ick. I’ve sickened myself. I might just like it ’cause it seems like kids being naughty. Oh and all prejudices are stupid.

    Kum bi ya, my Lord, Kum bi ya.
    Kum bi ya, my Lord, Kum bi ya.
    Kum bi ya, my Lord, Kum bi ya.
    Oh Lord, Kum bi ya.


  21. Duncan, I thought you were being facetious! A great problem is that “breaking the unspoken codes that governed peoples lives. That by affronting those unspoken beliefs that could not be named, questioned or re-thought would break their dominance on individuals lives” is pretty much how facists felt about their “critique” of democracy.

    Paul — “albeit slightly mis-guided” —?!!! — that has to be the most uninformed understatement I have ever heard, whether buried in consensus-theory-sprache or not. I hope you were being facetious, because it read like a parody of curator speech, all so “mfa wonderful” as vanrijngo put it so well.

    I hold with Richard that “this work is, in my opinion, lazy and derivative with a clear goal of trying to be glib and shocking.”

  22. Christopher says:

    It ‘s a contrived shock but sadly it works to get attention or comment. At that level of the game it seems that is what it takes to shuffle certain people out of the white noise. I agree they are stupid money focused fetish work with little over shock value but I think the art audience brings that upon it self to a certain extent more then the Chapman brothers single handedly starting this trend on their own.

    Oh and a more solid supporter of the Jewish community you would not find then me and I am solidly in the corner of this work having so little to do with antisemitism that the mere mentioning of it is laughable.

    The is art wear a cup.

  23. The Shark says:

    Duncan: what makes you think that “power is always about oppression”? Randians/Aristotelians would suggest that power, removed from the necessity of its being, put into the hands and service of mediocrity is about oppression -but power itself is not by defintion oppression -you are con-fusing two separate things.

    This, ” The pictures use creator and history as a material in the creation of a new thing. A thing that “thumbs it nose” at that history, those acts, and and belief structure that attempts to sanctify the the holy or profane” Oh brruuuther! yet more! bad art school induced Foucault like archealogy masquerading as philosophy/revisionist idealogy really is exposed for what it is -as in ‘nothing’ addressing ‘nothing’, in the service of attempting to lend weight and aesthetic traction to what is only, trite trash.

    How does this work in any way accomplish anything you claim it does? Lets see: by painting a bad rainbow on a bad Hitler watercolor, this does anything -beyond being fodder for more art school level philosophical mumbo jumbo? I’m guessing that, is where the meaning is -as it is nowhere to be found in the actual work itself. Take away the shite talk, the work is what it is, simply, shite.

    The fact is, these guys take some lameass watercolors -and continue in their lameass, weak, poorly thought out or, realized, attempt at manipulation.

  24. Michael Workman says:

    I actually find this kind of work facile for different reasons than expressed thus far. I think using Hitler’s work is motivated by the same kind of impulse that occurs when guys spend 50-60 grand on a Harley, that is, the message behind it is that they’re being true to themselves. I think they’re thinking of Hitler as the single most transgressive figure in recent human memory and comparing themselves as artists to that atrocious social standard. Painting rainbows and interpolating all these cutsie, airy details is a mocking attempt to show their own human purity as a transcendant iconoclasm capable of overcoming an historical stigma attached to the man through his imagery.

    As a lesser point, I actually like how the Chapman Brothers have reached to reclaim objects condemned as malformed or grotesque by way of a sociocultural fiat in the past: statements made about Holocaust psychology with GI Joe-scale figurines, for instance. In that work, genocide was given a sufficiently commensurate scale in its material to the minds that committed the atrocities depicted. I just don’t think this work manages what it sets out to accomplish and should have been more considerate in its approach to such a painful figure in recent human history. It’s not unjust to mistake their intention as one where so-called lesser beings are worthy of unequal treatment in our present–or past, or future–societal consciousness. This work could have been thought through much better in that regard. That doesn’t mean, however, that their aim is any less admirable for having sought to highlight the best in us all as people.

    Ehh–sometimes art falls short of its prospects, like everything else.

  25. Michael Workman says:

    I’d like to add, despite the hyperventilation about the rest of the world’s art practices, that there’s a growing movement in Chicago to create private art spaces on a scale I’ve never seen before. And, frustratingly, too much navel-gazing in the face of a rapidly shifting art cultural standard. How many new apartment spaces have opened in the last month? While all the mid-range, quasi-legit commercial/cultural trade-offs like Boyle and 40,000 have (predictably) been going out of business en masse, I count no less than a dozen earnest new initiatives whose artists and audience are surprisingly not always about projecting a front as a naive and unrealistic expectation of somehow getting famous or rich for it. Second Bedroom, Vega Estate Presents, Elegant Mr., Medicine Park, Nightingale, Knock Knock Gallery, it’s a huge list. My vote is to hear more about these, they are as much the future of exhibition as BAS is of the art press.

  26. ben says:

    if i had more money i would make a life sized hamburglar with a hitler moustache sporting a michael jackson complexion. It would sit inside a minimalist cube with a shark. the entire thing would be cast in gold and painted with latex. jeff koons could decorate the balloon animals and i hope someone rich and (saatchi or otherwise) important? would f$cking pop it. funny, right?

  27. Richard says:


    You do it, we’ll report on it.


  28. Seems to comment more on what money can buy than anything else, I’m kind of fascinated. What a train wreck.

  29. The Shark says:

    Michael -always good to hear your voice -I would add -concerning Chicago, that perhaps more important than the small storefront/inhouse studios that have been ubiquitous here for almost two decades, is in my opinion, is an even more interesting phenomenon -artists simply using their studios and the internet to do business. Tony Fitzpatrick and I have been doing this to great effect for many years now -and then ook at the Zhou Brothers…Kerry James to the best of my knowledge is not represented by a gallery here…..

    At the end of the day, when I think about showing in Chicago -as I plan to do this fall, I simply open up my studio. Its far superior in terms of a space to any commercial venue here, I can do all of the footwork to make it happen in a professional, effective manner -something rare to find amongst local gallerie venues -and best of all, the $$$ goes in one persons pocket -namely, mine.

    Old models are crumbling as we speak.

    As for The Chapmans…..well, to each his own -I have always found the work to be one-line, lightweight -pseudo, badboy schlock-at mega- buck prices.

  30. 777 says:

    I find their work interesting and complex, though it requires a large amount of historical knowledge, and without said intellect, it may be hard to interperet.

  31. The Shark says:

    777 -what an idiot. Why not give us your historical interpretation? Of, if not this work, why not the patterns created by maggots eating corn out of shit? A thing no doubt, you would find equally mesmerizing and intellectually challenging -‘requiring a large amount of historical knowledge.’

    by the way mental giant, its ‘interpret’ though inter-parrot is probably more applicable for you.

  32. Hitler? Goya? A large amount of historical knowledge? Like the art which is Neo-Concept Art 101, the info they use is all Intro to History 101.

    “Interparrot” is one of the best neoligisms I’ve read in ages!

  33. The Shark says:

    and who says great white sharks don’t hunt in packs?

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