Rafael i Weekendavisen


I dagens udgave af Weekendavisen anmelder jeg den store — og fantastiske! — udstilling af Rafael-tegninger på The Ashmolean Museum i Oxford (til 3 september) og gør mig nogle tanker om hvad Rafaels tegninger fortæller os om hans særlige geni — et, der har gjort ham til det nok bedste bud på den vestlige traditions kvintessentielle kunstner.

Læs anmeldelsen her, eller i avisen hvor den er bedre illustreret. Og se udstillingen hvis I kan!

Sortkridtstegningen ovenfor er fra ca. 1519–20 og tilhører The Ashmolean Museum. Jeg diskuterer den i anmeldelsen.

Trump i Doonesbury i Information


I denne weekends Moderne Tider-tillæg i Information står min anmeldelse af den særlige Trump-opsamling af G.B. Trudeaus Doonesbury at læse. Jeg gør mig i den forbindelse nogle tanker om det at satirisere Trump — noget, der tydeligvis ikke er så nemt som man skulle tro. Hermed en smagsprøve:

Det bliver taget for givet, at Trump er en gave til satirikerne. At han serverer deres levebrød på et sølvfad. Jeg er ikke så sikker. Ja, særligt de amerikanske aftenshowværter har kronede dage – med Stephen Colbert og Trevor Noah i spidsen – men de koncentrerer sig i højere grad om den politiske og mediemæssige kontekst der muliggør galskaben, end om manden selv. Dem der gør har det svært: at Alec Baldwin er blevet lagt for had af præsidenten kalder nok på kollegernes misundelse, men hans Saturday Night Live-portræt af præsidenten er hverken særligt præcist eller særligt sjovt. Han udkonkurreres i dén grad af den ægte vare.

Læs mere her (advarsel: paywall)

Roskilde 2017: Last Man Standing


Barely. Once more, I am covering the Roskilde Festival for the Danish hip hop site Rapspot.dk, this year with the significant difference that I will be doing it dolo. Rapspot has been in decline for a while, a natural result of internet evolution and contributor devolution. Nothing lasts forever and a twenty-year run of it ain’t half bad. As for Roskilde, this year will mark twenty-five since I first attended the festival and I still find it equally nourishing for mind and spirit. Although life makes it increasingly harder, I hope this won’t be my last time on the green.

In the meantime, however, sit back and enjoy my barebones coverage of Nas, Solange, Gucci Mane, Ice Cube, Seun Kuti, and much more over the next few days. It is happening over at Rapspot, in Danish, and on Twitter @metabunker in English.

That photo? Erm, that’s your correspondent caught partially unawares by my man Klaus Køhl Saturday night at the 2003 festival. Still one of the best I’ve attended.

Flygtningekrisen i danske tegneserier

Fra Lars Hornemans bidrag til Uledsaget


Information har endelig trykt en anmeldelse jeg skrev for flere måneder siden, om hvorledes flygtningekrisen og immigrationsspørgsmål mere generelt er begyndt at vise sig, rent tematisk, i danske tegneserier, her konkret antologien Uledsaget, der rummer bidrag af Lars Horneman, Tom Kristensen, Adam O., Halfdan Pisket, Karoline Stjernfelt, baseret på fem uledsagede flygtningedrenges historier; Morten Dürr og Lars Hornemans ungdomsserie Zenobia, der fortæller historien om en druknende flygtningepige; og ikke mindst Johan F. Krarups verité-fiktion Styrelsen, om en blød mands forfald til korruption som sagsbehandler i Udlæningenstyrelsen. Anmeldelsen kan læses her (advarsel: paywall den første måneds tid) og her er et uddrag (om Styrelsen):

Den bløde mand, Laursen, inkarnerer en dansk kultur, hvor tilliden til medmennesket er høj og korruption en sjældenhed. Hans manglende evne til at sige fra udstiller systemets sårbarhed overfor pragmatisk udnyttelse, mens hans patetisk morsomt skildrede moralske kvababbelser antyder styrken i det anstændighedens imperativ, han trods alt lever under. Krarups tegninger er en anelse skematiske og bliver over så mange sider monotone, men at han forstår nuancens kunst ses i bogens sidste billede af Laursen.

Hype: New Reviews

Krazy Kat Sunday page 6 October, 1940


Over at The Comics Journal I’ve just had my rather long, unfocused… er, discursive review of Michael Tisserand’s major new biography Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White published. Herriman’s Krazy Kat is widely, and for pretty good reasons, regarded as one of the greatest comics of all time, and really should also be considered on of the great, distinct works of art of the twentieth century, in my opinion. I have some thoughts about the strip, as well as assorted other comics embedded in the review. Anyway, check it out.

Oh, and in the latest issue of The Burlington Magazine you can read my review of Claudia Bertling Biaggini’s book on Sebastiano del Piombo, Felix Pictor.

Happy Easter


I hope you are all well. If you’re in London, do consider visiting my exhibition, Michelangelo & Sebastiano, at the National Gallery. It includes the juxtaposition, above, of Michelangelo’s two Risen Christs. I naturally recommend it.

Michelangelo & Sebastiano


In a couple of weeks’ time, on 15 March, the exhibition Michelangelo & Sebastiano opens at the National Gallery (trailer above). As its curator, I’ve worked on it for the past two and a half years and of course look forward to people seeing it.

Briefly, it aims to be a focused show, examining the extraordinary friendship and collaboration between Michelangelo (1475-1564) and the Venetian painter and expat to Rome Sebastiano Luciani, known to posterity as Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547). Michelangelo is not known for his ability or willingness to collaborate, in part due to his own efforts in his later years to play down any such activity, but also because he genuinely worked best alone, or with assistants who were essentially subservient to him.

Remarkably, the partnership with Sebastiano, which started in late 1511 and lasted on-off, and mostly in long-distance form — Michelangelo in Florence and Sebastiano in Rome — between 1516 and 1534, was essentially a collaboration among equals. Yes, it was asymmetrical, as one would expect of any collaboration involving one of the greatest artists who ever lived, but each of the two men brought their unique ideas and sensibilities to their joint projects. Essentially, Michelangelo would provide Sebastiano with drawings which he would use in his paintings, but in many different ways and often quite independently of any oversight from Michelangelo. Sebastiano was hugely influenced by Michelangelo and spent most of his career assimilating his example, but he did so in his own, highly original fashion.

At the time of their falling-out in 1536, apparently over the choice of medium (oil or fresco) that Michelangelo would use for the Sistine Last Judgment — the great project that had brought him back to Rome, Sebastiano had developed a monumental, uniquely still and intensely spiritual style of painting that would prove immensely influential of painters of the following generations, not just in Rome but across Europe, from Caravaggio to Poussin and even Zurbarán.


Anyway, all this and much more — including the dramatic historical context, one of upheaval, war, schism and theological and artistic rejuvenation — will be explored in the exhibition and in its catalogue, which is shipping from its distributor as of yesterday. Edited by me, it features scholarship by, among others, Costanza Barbieri, Paul Joannides, Piers Baker-Bates, Silvia Danesi Squarzina and Timothy Verdon. Read more (and purchase) here.

Pushwagner at The Comics Journal


What more appropriate comic could I have been writing about on the day of that bogus, horrifying presidential auguration? That’s right, the Norwegian artist Pushwagner’s Dystopian 1970s masterwork Soft City, now out in a handsome American edition from the New York Review. Go, read, at The Comics Journal.

Hype: Chris Ware Conversations


The latest volume in University of Mississippi Press’ series compiling interviews with individual cartoonists features Chris Ware. It is edited by Jean Braithwaite, characteristically beautifully covered by Ware himself, and includes a compelling selection of very different interviews spanning the cartoonist’s career — including rarely-seen ones made very early on in his career as well as a couple of brand new ones with Ware and one with his wife Marnie.

The book also contains my 2010 conversation (see here and here) with Ware from the Copenhagen comics festival Komiks.dk (which has since changed its name to Copenhagen Comics and whose most recent edition is coming up next month). I am proud in general to be in this series for the second time (the first was the Chester Brown volume; see also here) and in this particular, skilfully edited volume in particular. Do check it out.

Happy New Year


A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall.

1 Love.

Celebrating Paul Joannides

It was a great pleasure, in the run-up to Christmas, to announce the publication of the latest issue of the art history anthology Artibus et Historiae, which is a special issue dedicated to Professor Paul Joannides, formerly of the University of Cambridge, now Emeritus.

I was once of the guest editors of this projects, working with a group of Paul’s former students and friends to put together a publication that we thought he would enjoy, a Festschrift to mark his retirement a couple years ago, but beyond that of course his significance as a scholar and teacher in his field. It was all kept a secret and took about two years. We’re proud of the publication and happy in this way to honour a great teacher, mentor and person.

The list of contributors includes many of Paul’s friends and colleagues, some who have known him for most of their lives and some who only got to know him in recent years, as his last students. The list of contents can be perused through the link above.

I managed to contribute an article myself. Here’s the abstract: Continue reading ‘Celebrating Paul Joannides’

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the National Gallery

This is the kind of thing that helps me cope. Apologies for any awkwardness!

What I’ve been up to


It seems increasingly meaningless these days, right? Yet, these are some of the things I’ve been up to over the last month or so.

ITEM at Apollo Magazine online a few weeks ago, I wrote an appreciation of the great Harewood Titian drawing (above), which is currently under temporary export bar and risks leaving the UK for an overseas home if a matching offer isn’t met before 20 December.

ITEM In the latest National Gallery Technical Bulletin (vol. 37), Chris Fischer, Rachel Billinge and I analyse new technical evidence concerning Fra Bartolommeo’s Virgin Adoring the Child with St Joseph in the National Gallery’s collection. Newly recorded infrared reflectograms reveal underdrawing that straddles the gap between his disciplined Florentine training and the flowering lyrical undercurrent in his work that was stimulated so decisively by his visit to Venice in 1508. We also publish a series of replicas/copies of the composition, including the one in Brescia and a previously unknown one in a private collection, both probably made in his San Marco workshop. The issue also contains articles on Dutch seventeenth-century flower painting, Daubigny and Van Gogh. Consult at your art library or wait till the content is made available online.

ITEM The latest volume of Studi Tizianeschi (no. IX) contains my review of Tom Nichols’ flawed but occasionally stimulating book Titian and the End of the Venetian Renaissance. But don’t get it for that — the issue contains Paul Joannides’ and Jane Turner’s long-awaited and magisterial examination of Titian’s and his workshop’s many versions of the quintessential Venus and Adonis composition, a material that would pose a heroic challenge to any Titian connoisseur. There are other interesting articles on Titian-related matters too, naturally. Again, check it out at your library or order here.


ITEM a couple of my comics reviews have been published in Information (in Danish). Firstly, it concerns the Danish omnibus-like edition of Simon Hanselman’s bleakly funny and deranged comics about Megg, Mogg and Owl (above). It predates last year’s Megg and Mogg in Amsterdam, but pretty much every strip he made prior to that is in it. Next up is Drømme i tynd luft (‘Dreams in Thin Air’), a comics documentary on the formation of the first Tibetan national football team told by the Danish idealist who helped it happen, Michael Magnus Nybrandt and illustrated by the talented Thomas Engelbrecht Mikkelsen. It’s a fascinating story, but the comic lacks dramatic and psychological interest, despite a few inspired passages. Anyway, even if you don’t read Danish, you may be able soon to see for yourself, as several international editions are in the works.

ITEM Oh, and I’m back writing story notes in the Fantagraphics Carl Barks series, which is of course fantastic fun. In the latest book, I wrote about the so-called ‘Donald Duck Rants about Ants’ — a true horror comedy steeped in 1950s paranoia as only Barks can do it. But, you know, get it — and the series — for the comics.