Poetry in Paint: A Titian Conference at the National Gallery


This November, we staging a large virtual conference devoted to Titian’s late mythological paintings at the National Gallery. Organised by Thomas Dalla Costa and myself on the occasion of the exhibition Titian: Love Desire Death, which is still on view at Trafalgar Square (until 17 January), it will bring together scholars, conservators and scientists from Europe and North America to speak on a wide variety of topics relating to Titian and his mythological paintings, from technique to meaning and the wider context: from politics and identity to sex and violence!

The conference It will also feature four artist’s talks, with Nalini Malani, Michael Armitage, Phoebe Gloeckner and Tom de Freston — all reflecting on what Titian means to their practice and how they grapple with the enduring issues so central to his work.

The dates are 3, 10 and 17 November. You can see the full programme and register here.

Robert Crumb: I Can’t Do Pretty


Last summer, Christian Monggaard, film critic at the Danish newspaper Information and comics enthusiast, interviewed Robert Crumb twice in connection with the literary festival Louisiana Literature (see more here). With the blessings of Crumb, he has now converted these interviews into a small and beautifully-designed self-published book, Robert Crumb: I Can’t Do Pretty, to which he has added a personal appreciation of the artist that doubles as an introduction to Crumb’s career. He also asked yours truly to provide a foreword, which ended up as an essay about Crumb’s simultaneously transgressive and wholesome, self-analytical and empathetic work. Do check it out!

Order it here, or (perhaps) through your nearest book- or comics shop.

Haldfan Piskets Døden i Information


Halfdan Pisket følger nu sin skelsættende Dansker-trilogi op med Døden, en fiktion der belyser samme problemfelt og finder en lignende plads i dansk immigrantlitteratur. En stilsikker og bevægende tegneserie, jeg netop har anmeldt i Information. Læs den her, bag betalingsmuren, eller i dagens bogtillæg til avisen.

Den magiske spinel i Information


Min anmeldelse af Peter Wandel og Rasmus Meislers tegneserie Den magiske spinel kan læses i fredagens bogtillæg til Information eller online her, hvis du betaler. Det er en kompetent men McGraphic novel-agtig tegneserie, der primært er sat i verden for at højne opmærksomheden omkring Davids samling i København, hvilket bestemt er en værdig sag — Davids samling er en perle i dansk kulturliv, en samling på absolut internationalt niveau. Besøg!

Jack Kirbys Fourth World i Supersnak

Evigt relevant, og så er demagogen stadig orange. Fra Forever People #3 (1971).


Jeg er endnu engang beæret over at deltage i Morten Søndergård og Kim Schous podcast Supersnak — igen om Jack Kirby, naturligvis! Denne gang handler det om hans måske mest personlige større værk og muligvis hovedværket i hele produktionen, nemlig den såkaldte Fourth World-cyklus udgivet af DC Comics i begyndelsen af halvfjerdserne og desværre aldrig færdiggjort som han havde intenderet det.

Hent der, hvor du lytter til podcasts eller hop ind og lyt via Nummer9, Supersnaks Soundcloud eller podcastets Instagram og Facebook. Og hvis du har mod på mere, så hop tilbage og lyt til vores diskussion fra julen 2019 af Kirby samarbejde med Stan Lee under skabelsen og udviklingen af Marvel-universet. Endnu engang tak til Morten og Kim!

Bløde mænd i Information


I fredagens bogtillæg til Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af to nye danske tegneserier, der har det til fælles at de omhandler mænd af den bløde, søgende og følsomme støbning. Det drejer sig om Palle Sigsgaard og Jens-Andreas D. Elkjærs tegneseriedebut Hasse får et liv og Lars Kramhøfts første solo-langspiller Noget frygteligt er altid lige ved at ske. Sidstnævnte er især et kig værd, men begge er interessante. Læs her.

Håb

Sabrina i Information

I dagens bogtillæg til Information står min anmeldelse af amerikanske Nick Drnasos anmelderroste Sabrina at læse. Den er kommet på dansk for nylig og fortjener opmærksomhed. Blandt de mest markante tegneserieudgivelser de seneste år. Hermed et uddrag fra anmeldelsen:

Sabrina udkom forrige år på originalsproget og for nylig i glimrende oversættelse på dansk. Den har modtaget stort bifald blandt kritikerstanden og blev nomineret til Bookerprisen i Storbritannien. Forfatteren Zadie Smith kalder den »den bedste bog – inden for alle kunstformer – jeg har læst om den tid, vi lever i«.

Om dét holder nu, hvor COVID-19 er ved at omdefinere vore liv og samfund, er usikkert, men den følelse af eksistentiel skræk, Sabrina fremmaner i sin skildring af, hvordan tragiske fakta opløses i det mediebårne samfundsdyb klinger fortsat rent.

Smid penge efter avisen og læs her.

Titian Behind Closed Doors at the BBC


The BBC2 documentary Titian Behind Closed Doors, directed by Matthew Hill, aired on the BBC on Saturday night. It’s a treatment of Titian’s relationship with Philip II, the king of Spain, and the series of mythological paintings, the so-called poesie, that he painted for him. It coincides with our now-shuttered exhibition, Titian Love Desire Death, at The National Gallery. I was involved in pitching it to the BBC and gave an interview for it, but have not otherwise been involved. I recommend taking a look if you’re interested in the subject — it covers a lot of ground on a complex and rich topic. If you have access to the BBC iPlayer, you can watch it here for the next twenty-odd days.

Shingal og Zerocalcare i Information


I fredagens bogtillæg til Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af Tore Rørbæk og Mikkel Sommers Shingal og italienske Zerocalcares Kobane Calling — begge baseret på øjenvidneberetninger fra krigen i Syrien, Irak og Kurdistan. Det er gode om end ikke perfekte tegneserier, der rejser spørgsmål om tegneserien som journalistisk og dokumentarisk medie. Hermed indledningen:

Journalistik og dokumentarisme er i vækst inden for tegneserien. Formen er velegnet til at visualisere tid, sted og problematik på klar og samtidig nærværende vis. Der er mindre visuel ’støj’ i et tegneseriebillede end i fotografi, og billeder og tekst i forening kan ofte anskueliggøre komplekse forhold på mere økonomisk vis end tekst.

Det er imidlertid også meget arbejdskrævende, hvilket gør såvel nyhedsreportage som graverjournalistik eller detaljeret dokumentation i tegneserieform til sjældenheder – til det første skal man kunne tegne vanvittigt hurtigt, mens de to sidstnævnte kræver en tålmodighed, der sjældent står mål med den endelige læserskare. Derfor vælger mange noget midt imellem, eksempelvis rejseskildringen, personportrættet eller den dramatiserede øjenvidneberetning.

Læs den her, hvis du kan betale.

Titian at the National Gallery


Before the world went sideways, I was working on an exhibition, Titian Love Desire Death, uniting seven masterpieces of mythological paintings by Titian (about 1488-1576) at the National Gallery. We managed to open the exhibition on 16 March. Three days later it closed along with the rest of the Gallery which was one of the last European institutions of its kind to do so. We have no idea when we will be able to reopen again and therefore whether we will be able to share this extraordinary collection of paintings with the public before they have to be packed and shipped onwards. I wrote about this situation for Apollo Magazine last week.


Titian called these pictures poesie in order to emphasise the inspiration he had taken from classical poetry and the ambition to have them work as visual poems. The group of six canvases were executed for Philip of Habsburg, King Philip II of Spain from 1556, between about 1551 and 1562, while a seventh was never sent and only completed towards the end of the artist’s life. The six have not been seen together since, probably, the 1570s, and the seventh has never been displayed with the rest of the group. This was a dream project, not just of mine but any Titian or Italian renaissance enthusiast for generations.


I have been privileged to play a part in its realisation and hope you will want to take a closer look, if not in person at the National Gallery, then perhaps at one of our partnering venues: the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh, the Museo del Prado in Madrid or the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, to where the paintings will tour, if all goes well and the pandemic doesn’t get in the way of that too. And if not there, then perhaps virtually — we will doing our best to share our knowledge and appreciation online over the next months, in part under the #MuseumFromHome tag. Also, there will be a documentary dedicated to Titian and the poesie, in which I participate, broadcast on BBC 2 on 4 April and I believe Mary Beard will be featuring the works on Front Row Late sometime soon as well. Will post links in here when and if.

Our exhibition film is based on the BBC’s footage, a taster of which can be seen in the following short video on the paired Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto:

Here is a Facebook Live I did on 16 March, before we opened to the public. It was done under the worrying shadow of Covid-19 so bear with the slight incoherence. In the run-up to the exhibition my colleagues and I also did a series of FacebookLives on the individual paintings — they can be accessed here.

A creative decision that we made early in the process and which I was particularly happy with was to reframe Philip’s six pictures in matching frames in order to harmonise the display. Handcarved in the National Gallery framing department by Peter Schade, our Head of Framing and his team, they are based on the original sixteenth-century frame around Titian’s late Pietà at the Accademia in Venice. Check out this nice video the Gallery produced on the project:

They *are* such wonderful paintings.

Danish Comics of the Year 2019


After having skipped a year, Paul Gravett is back with his annual roundup of the best comics worldwide. As usual, I’ve provided my view of what was best in Danish comics in 2019. My choices are reproduced below, but check the whole list here and here. Continue reading ‘Danish Comics of the Year 2019′

Carmen Bambachs Leonardo i Information

Studier af et barn med en kat, ca. 1478-81, London, British Museum


I dagens bogtillæg til Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af inspektør ved Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York og Leonardo-ekspert Carmen Bambachs monumentale bogværk Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered. Det har været små 25 år undervejs og er en forskningsmæssig bedrift af de sjældne, sprængfyldt med detailobservationer og filologiske synteser, men det er også en anelse tungt at danse med og mangler en rød tråd. Jeg skriver blandt andet:

…Bambach er ikke maleriekspert, hun er specialist i renæssancens tegnekunst, et område på hvilket der kun er få, hvis viden kan måle sig med hendes. Den genopdagelse af en af verdens mest berømte kunstnere, som bogværkets titel lover, ligger i hendes objektnære behandling af mesterens arbejder på papir. Hun er ikke interesseret i store overordnede teser og konklusioner, men snarere i den rigdom, der findes i detaljen. Hun ser ting, ingen andre har lagt mærke til, og i modsætning til mange kolleger, som går mere selektivt til stoffet, skyer hun ikke de ofte dybt komplicerede tekniske eller filologiske spørgsmål, det kaster af sig.

Alt dette gør hendes arbejde tungt at danse med for den alment interesserede læser, men uvurderligt for fagfolk – selv om formatet er monografisk og præsentationen kronologisk, fungerer det således bedst som opslagsværk.

Læs hele min anmeldelse her, mod betaling. Eller giv dig i kast med projektet, der dannede grundlaget, Bambachs store katalog til den fantastiske udstilling hun arrangerede om mesteren på Metropolitan Museum i 2003.

Happy New Year!


Better late than never?

Merry Christmas

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Adoration of the Kings, 1564, London, The National Gallery