Great Deeds Against the Dead is a mixed media rendering of Plate 39 of Goya's Disaster of War series. In Goya's original etching, three figures are strung up on a tree trunk, murdered and mutilated; the Chapmans use mannequins, wigs, and fake blood to create a lifesize sculpture.


Although discussions around the Chapmans' work often understandably focus on their transgressions and the artists' provocative attitudes, particularly in relation to broader notions of "art", pieces like Great Deeds can also be viewed on their own merits. The embodiment of suffering, the anatomy of torture, and the aesthetic and moral nature of bringing violence into the museum gallery are prominent motifs in Great Deeds. How do we represent the traumas and catastrophic violence of war, and how do "original" or earlier representations help us make sense of ongoing violence and torture? After all, mutilation and the horrors of war hardly ended with the Peninsular War, the subject of Goya's testimonials.


Dated 1994. For Christopher Turner's discussion of the Chapmans' focus on Goya's Disaster of War series, with relevant images, see

Primary Source

Anthony Julius. Transgressions: The Offences of Art (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003).