Miniaturemaleri i Weekendavisen

Nicholas Hilliard, selvportræt, 1577, Victoria and Albert Museum


I dagens Weekendavis kan man læse min anmeldelse af den fornemme udstilling the National Portrait Gallery de seneste måneder har vist af miniatureportrætter af genrens to store britiske mestre Nicholas Hilliard og Isaac Oliver. En art kollektiv portræt af den britiske elite under Elizabeth I og Jakob I via udsøgte kunstværker. Den bedste udstilling i London lige nu, men desværre ikke ret meget længere. Se den hvis du er i byen før 19 maj og læs kataloget.

Posy Simmonds at The Comics Journal


For my latest column at The Comics Journal, I take a closer look at Posy Simmonds’ latest comic, Cassandra Darke, which is a slow-burn masterpiece in paraphrase of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and in the process I have some more general thoughts on her art. Here’s an excerpt:

It is in this characterization of privileged life unsettled that Simmonds—ever concerned with the complexities of social relations and middle-class anxiety—delivers her starkest indictment to date of contemporary society. Mind you, with her trademark British understatement which ensures that satire never subverts story. Her masterful use of crayon and wash technique brings to life a posh London under snow, with its darkened windows, gated garden squares and gleaming lobbies. Her work was an exquisite, unostentatious a sense of place which rivals that of Jacques Tardi. And when Cassandra finally decides to take action and ventures into the ‘far east’ of London, Simmonds evokes a boarded-up high street—perhaps in Dagenham—of pound shops, off licenses and pawnbrokers in a short burst of dense panels, while contrapuntally noting in the voiceover “in spite of its decay, [it] has Christmas lights and bursts of laughter coming from pub doors.” In the space of a few pages she has skipped sideways from A Christmas Carol to A Tale of Two Cities.

Read the whole thing here, and stop by Cynthia Rose’s in-depth reportage from the Pulp festival, which took place a few weeks ago just outside Paris and featured Simmonds, as well as Catherine Meurisse.

Strannik i Information


I dagens bogtillæg til Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af Anna Rakhmanko og Mikkel Sommers dokumentariske Strannik, om en hjemløs mand der ernærer sig som MMA-kæmper i Moskva. Det er besk, indigneret dokumentarisme, dygtigt disponeret af den tegneseriedebuterende Rakhmanko og leveret med mere selvsikkerhed og mindre lir end vi er vant til fra Sommer. Bag den tredje dør her.

Fantask no more?


Meget tyder på at Fantask er slut. I fredag i sidste uge sendte Butikkens ejer Marit Nim en besked ud til Butikkens abonnenter om, at de lukker til sommer. Det satte i den grad fællesskabet i affekt — Benjamin Herbst fra Superhelten.dk igangsatte en GoFundMe for at støtte Butikken, i håbet om at det kunne forhindre en lukning. På under 24 timer var indsamlingen oppe på en kvart million, på mindre end en uge nåede vi en halv. Marit annoncerede som reaktion, at Fantask ikke lukker, men nok stadig må flytte fra adressen Skt Pedersstræde 18, hvor Butikken har ligget siden 1971.

Det virker helt sikkert. Fantasks stiftere Rolf Bülow og Søren Pedersen ejer lokalerne, som samtidig udgør deres pension. De har siden de afhændede butikken til Marit sikret, at hun kunne køre den på gode vilkår. At Marit så i sidste uge annoncerer at hun bliver nødt til at lukke, viser tydeligt at det ikke længere kan lade sig gøre uden større forandringer. Vi håber alle på det bedste, da Fantask jo i den grad må karakteriseres som en kulturbærende institution i Danmark — og en der har betydet enormt meget for enormt mange, herunder undertegnede, som endda en overgang arbejdede der.

Selvom det ikke er overraskende, gør det ondt at se Butikken kæntre her i den digitale tidsalder, hvor det i stigende grad er blevet vanskeligt at drive fysisk boghandel. Og det bringer alle minderne frem, i hvert fald hos undertegnede, men tydeligvis også for de tusindvis andre, der har lagt deres hårdt indtjente i hvad der nok snarere er en kærlighedserklæring til Fantask og et rygstød til holdet bag, end det er en realistisk redning. Lad os se, og Godspeed til alle de involverede, før og nu. Continue reading ‘Fantask no more?’

Pisket at The Comics Journal


After more than a year, I’m finally back on the virtual pages of The Comics Journal with a new instalment of my column Common Currency, on European comics. This time, I’ve taken the opportunity of the recent awards handed out at the Angoulême Festival to review Danish cartoonist Halfdan Pisket’s astonishing account of hi father, James’ life in the Dansker-Trilogy, the third volume of which was just given the Prix de la Série in Angoulême, as far as I know the first time a Scandinavian comic has been awarded in the major categories (do correct me if I’m wrong).

But that’s less relevant — what’s important is that this is a distinct and compelling work of memoir, empathy and history, told in comics form. I absolutely encourage you to seek it out if you read Danish or French, and if not then pester your favourite comics publisher to put it out in a language you can read. Check out my column here.

Kvindekamp i Information

Fra Bagieus biografi over svømnings- og kropsaktivisten Annette Kellerman


I fredagens bogtillæg til Information kunne man læse min anmeldelse af Marta Breen og Jenny Jordahls Kvinder i kamp og Pénélope Bagieus Skamløs, to nye formidlende tegneserier, der både behandler kvindekampens historie og formidler en “alternativ’, kvindeorienteret historieform — alt sammen i tegneserieform. Det startet sådan her:

Kvinder i kamp og Skamløs, to nyligt udkomne tegneserier, præsenterer aspekter af kvindekampen og den kvindeorienterede historieskrivning i tilgængelig, letfordøjelig og overvejende underholdende form. Det kan måske virke overraskende, fordi denne type tegneserie kun for nylig har manifesteret sig i litteraturverdenen, men den har en lang tradition bag sig.

læs mere her, bag væggen.

Lorenzo Lotto: Last Days


The Lorenzo Lotto Portraits exhibition at the National Gallery, which I co-organised with Miguel Falomir and Enrico Maria Dal Pozzolo, is now in the last days of its run. It’s been a great season for Lotto, what with us putting Lotto on at two of the major art museums of the world, the Museo del Prado in Madrid and The National Gallery, and with the concurrent Lotto initiative, inspired in part by our exhibition, in the region of the Marche, which has included an additional, more specialist-oriented exhibition in Macerata as well as the introduction of a joint ticket for visitors wanting to go on the Lotto trail through the region. Something which I’ve done and highly recommend — not only does it feature some of the artist’s greatest altarpieces and other paintings, the Marche is also a beautiful part of the world, mercifully free of tourists. Now, with tours, academic conferences, study days and other activities behind me, I can only say that I’ve become even more devoted learning about to this astonishing artist. I hope you have too.

Encouragingly in that regard, the London iteration of the exhibition, smaller but arguably more focused than the magnificent Madrid one, has a success. It is heartening to see so many people show an interest in a great artist who is virtually unknown outside Italy. I attribute it to Lotto’s very direct, intimate and relatable approach to his subject matter — he is an artist of great empathy who cannot but invest a lot of himself in his work, and it shows. If you haven’t seen the show yet and are in London, I hope you might be able to find the time. It’s open till Sunday. Check my introduction to the show above.

Happy New Year!


Have a better one.

Merry Christmas!

Bramantino, The Adoration of the Kings, about 1500, London, The National Gallery

KrigsSplint i Information


I fredagens bogtillæg til Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af første bind af Émile Bravos episk anlagte Splint & Co.-fortælling, L’Espoir malgré tout, eller Håbets tid på dansk. Den sender her i seriens 70-jubilæumsår den heltemodige piccolo midt ud i anden verdenskrig, i fortsættelse af de vellykkede enkeltstående album fra 2008 Journal d’un ingénu, dansk titel Portræt af helten som troskyldig ung mand (dansk udgave 2013). Jeg er ikke helt overbevist om at der er tale om en god idé:

Det er ambitiøst, men rejser det velkendte spørgsmål om, hvorvidt børnelitteraturens klart tegnede fantasifigurer tåler et så direkte virkelighedstjek.

Læs mere her, hvis du har abonemment.

Flashback: In Conversation about Sebastiano & Michelangelo

Michelangelo & Sebastiano, with Dr Matthias Wivel and Dr Piers Baker-Bates from Colnaghi Foundation on Vimeo.

It’s Christmas time, so here’s a treat for the two and half people who might care. I was searching for something else and happened upon this video through the Colnaghi Foundation website. It records a conversation I had at their premises in London in the spring of 2017 with my colleague Piers Baker-Bates on Sebastiano del Piombo, his relationship to Michelangelo and his fortuna critica in Spain (a particular specialty of Piers’). Of course the impetus was the exhibition I had organised at the National Gallery, to which Piers had provided invaluable assistance.

I was aware at the time that it was being filmed but forgot all about it, so it’s nice to see it’s been online for a while. It’s very nerdy, but that was also kind of the brief, and frankly a relief at a time when I was doing many more general — and also enjoyable! — introductions to the subject. Plus, it’s always nice to chat with Piers. Enjoy!

Stan Lee RIP


I Information, i fredagens bogtillæg, stod min nekrolog over Stan Lee at læse. Den kan også granskes her, hvis man betaler. Desværre var billedredigeringen mildest talt lemfældig og det endte med en tilfældig række forsider, to af hvilke intet havde med Lee at gøre. Men sådan går det jo en gang i mellem, når avisen skal på gaden. Tak alligvel til Information for at trykke en nekrolog over The Man.

For folk der kender min indstilling til Lee, er det nok ikke overraskende, at teksten fokuserer på det kreative samarbejde mellem Lee, Kirby og Ditko og førstnævntes efterfølgede uproportionale anerkendelse og belønning. Her et lille uddrag:

Ditko forlod i frustration Marvel i 1966, Kirby fulgte ham fire år senere. Andre kræfter kom til, men det blev aldrig det samme. Det er sigende, at mens Ditko og Kirby begge fortsatte distinkte og dybt originale kunstneriske livsbaner, skabte Lee hverken før eller siden noget, der kommer i nærheden af det, de lavede sammen. Samtidig er det imidlertid klart, at netop den kemi og den spænding, de to meget forskellige kunstnere opnåede i samarbejdet med Lee udmundede sig i værker af en ganske sjælden vitalitet.

Nåja, og så har jeg her muligheden for at supplere artiklen med en virkelig fed — og både for Lee og Kirby repræsentative splashside fra Fantastic Four #57 (1966). Hvil i fred!

Walther Isaacsons Leonardo


I dagens bogtillæg til Information anmelder jeg den danske udgave af Walther Isaacsons glimrende populærbiografi over Leonardo da Vinci. Hvorfor er himlen blå? Læs her (men gryn).

Venetian Drawings in Copenhagen


Years in the making, Chris Fischer’s latest catalogue of the collection of old master drawings at SMK, formerly in the Royal Print Collection, in Copenhagen, is now available. It covers the Venetian drawings, which is one of the collection’s strengths, even if it only contains a handful of real masterpieces.

I had the fortune of collaborating with Chris on this catalogue during my short stint as a research fellow at SMK, 2012-14. My contributions were minimal, but I am still proud to see my entries on Domenico Campagnola and his Paduan colleague Stefano dall’Arzere in there along with Chris’ exemplary entries on everything from Carpaccio and Veronese to Aliense and the Tiepolos. Also, Chris’ general introduction to the Venetian school of drawing is as good a short primer on this complex and still somewhat neglected field as you will find anywhere.

Bizarrely, the museum does not seem to sell this new publication, nor the former entries in what is a gold standard series for the cataloguing of drawings, anywhere online. I’m sure the catalogue will soon be available through international booksellers, but so far the only place I’ve found it is the Danish store Saxo.com.

Chris Fisher, with contributions by Matthias Wivel, Venetian Drawings (Italian Drawings in the Royal Collection of Graphic Art), Copenhagen: Statens Museum for Kunst, 2018

Leine og Mosdal i Information


I fredagens bogtillæg til Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af forfatter Kim Leines tegneseriedebut, Trojka 1: Skarabæens time som han har lavet sammen med den efterhånden garvede og altid interessante Søren Mosdal og som er første bind af en planlagt trilogi. Desværre er resultatet ujævnt og lidt skuffende.

Her er et uddrag:

[Det er] typisk Leine. Han har det med at anbringe sine mandlige hovedroller i ekstreme situationer og dermed tilspidse deres indre konflikt mellem drift og fornuft. I hans romaner forløber det imidlertid mere organisk, med plads til menneskelig uforudsigelighed, mens det her ekspliciteres i forklarende talebobler, nogle af dem alt for lange. Måske er det blot de startvanskeligheder, man kunne forvente i forbindelse med skiftet til et uvant medie, men det synes også at være gået lige lovlig hurtigt.

Umiddelbart skulle man tro, at Mosdal, skaberen af det dragende vikingeepos Fimbulvinter (2014) – der satte den tidlige Grønlandsfarer Erik den Røde under meget lignende pres – ville være den perfekte fortolker af Leines machounivers. Men desværre forvalter tegneren opgaven omtrent ligeså skødesløst som forfatteren.

Læs hele anmeldelsen her (men desværre kun hvis du har betalt).