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Lot 1: Jake and Dinos Chapman (b. 1966 & b. 1962)

Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction

by Christie's

February 16, 2011

London, United Kingdom

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Description: Jake and Dinos Chapman (b. 1966 & b. 1962)
Two Faced Cunt
fibreglass, resin, paint, wigs and trainers
40 5/8 x 22 x 12 5/8in. (103 x 56 x 32cm.)
Executed in 1995

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'The practice of making manifest, visually, a verbal obscenity, and the particular choice and recurrence of certain obscenity, (notably... Two-faced Cunt 1995), combined with a sense of (bodily) parody and mockery, creates a punning language that is poised between a moral stance - the aim to return to moral conduct through shock or abreaction and insolent laughter. It is through their use of obscene language that the Chapmans exhibit a carnivalesque sensibility combined with the desire Bataille expressed to bring things down in the world, in particular through language.'

(Jake and Dinos Chapman quoted in Bad Art for Bad People, exh. cat., Tate Liverpool, p. 80).

An iconic sculpture from 1995, Two-Faced Cunt by the brothers Dinos and Jake Chapman is one of the most notorious works of its generation. This now-iconic sculpture, which has featured in most of the Chapman Brothers' major exhibitions as well as the notorious Sensation show at the Royal Academy in 1997 which propelled the so-called Young British Artists to controversial prominence, presents the viewer with a provocative and disturbing image that oscillates between extremities of horror and of humour. That humour is encapsulated in the title: Two-Faced Cunt forms part of a group of sculptures that consisted of idiomatic British insults and twisted phrases sprung to all-too-literal life, such as Fuck Face and Five Easy Pissers. These puns, springing into three-dimensional form, posit a post-Darwinian world where the infiltration of man in the evolutionary process has created these mutated beings.

This sculpture is an apparently, and explicitly, female figure, naked apart from a pair of hi-spec trainers; she appears largely normal from the shoulders down, though strangely without a navel or genitalia; in this sense, she recalls the mannequins from which the Chapmans have taken their creative cue while also hinting at the idea that she is an artificial genetic creation, born of a test-tube rather than of a person with no need of an umbilical cord. Her Siamese-twin-like double head has, at the point where the two faces join, the female genitalia that lend the sculpture its deliberately insulting name.

Two-Faced Cunt is a critique embodying the artists' malaise at the state of the modern world. With its siblings, this work is the product of a relentless and merciless logic being applied to the way that capitalist society has developed over the last decades: in our consumerist, gratification-obsessed society, these mutated infants are the logical next step of a genetic evolution that has been strong-armed by these dystopian visionaries in order to highlight the absurdity of contemporary life.

Provenance: Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1995.

Exhibited: London, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Chapmanworld, 1996-97 (illustrated in colour, p. 16, image inverted). This exhibition later travelled to Graz, Grazer Kunstverein and Berlin, Kunst-Werke.
London, The Royal Academy, Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Gallery, 1997-99. This exhibition later travelled to Berlin, Hamburger Bahnhof and New York, Brooklyn Museum of Art.
London, Saatchi Gallery, Ant Noises, 2000.
London, Saatchi Gallery, Jake and Dinos Chapman, 2003.

Literature: M. Holborn, Jake & Dinos Chapman-Hell, London 2003 (illustrated, p. 15).

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