Charlie Hebdo at The Comics Journal


I recently published a review of the latest, 7 million print run-issue of Charlie Hebdo over at The Comics Journal. I have a second article, which delves further into the contentious and complicated issues surrounding the massacre, the cartoons and journalism of the magazine, and a bit of everything else, so stay tuned.

Moroni in the Burlington Magazine

Giovanni Battista Moroni, Portrait of Giovanni Gerolamo Albani, c. 1568+70, private collection


This month’s issue of The Burlington Magazine includes my review of the Royal Academy’s exhibition of the work of sixteenth-century Italian painter Giovanni Battista Moroni, curated by Simone Facchinetti and Arturo Galansino. It really is an excellent show of a now overlooked painter and I cannot recommend it enough. It closes this Sunday , so you still have a chance of seeing it, if you haven’t already.

Charlie Hebdo anmeldt i Information


I dagens udgave af Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af ugens med spænding ventede nummer af Charlie Hebdo med den bemærkelsesværdige forside ovenfor. Jeg skrev teksten til en meget stram deadline, så bær over med den lidt stakåndede præsentation, den manglende reflektion og en lidt brutal redigering. Jeg håber at skrive noget mere dybdegående snart.

Nous sommes

Charb (RIP) channels Dostoyevsky's "Grand Inquisitor"


Today witnessed a mockery of the values of human dignity and community, fundamental concepts in all the major religions, not least Islam. It has already been repeated much today, but this really does feel like an attack on us all, and not just in the West, but much more broadly.

My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the victims, while my hopes are with our societies to handle this outrage in the right way. There must be a robust response to the perpetrators and, more broadly, the mindset that motivated them, but ultimately the solution is more democracy and more freedom of expression for everyone, not less. Insha’Allah.

Habibi i Information


I ugens bogtillæg til Information kan man nu læse min anmeldelse af Craig Thompsons storværk Habibi, nu udgivet på dansk af Fahrenheit. Der er blevet redigeret lidt i teksten, men den er stadig ok. Læs den her.

Ønsker du mere om Habibi, kan den her 2011-serie af artikler fra Hooded Utilitarian anbefales. Jeg selv bidrog også til den med en mere grundig tekst end ovenstående.

Stupendous Secrecy and Potential Revelation

“Distant mountains floated in the sky as enchanted cities, and often the whole world would dissolve into a gold, silver, and scarlet land of Dunsanian dreams and adventurous expectancy under the magic of the low midnight sun, On cloudy days we had considerable trouble in flying owning to the tendency of snowy earth and sky to merge into one mystical opalescent void with no visible horizon to mark the junction of the two.”

My vacation reading has included a selection of Lovecraft stories. I hadn’t read anything by him since my teens/early twenties, when I devoured everything I could get hold of. And I’m now embarrassed to admit that I had subscribed to the commonly held idea that the world building was the thing and that he wasn’t a particularly good writer of prose.

Upon rereading a good chunk of the latter, I am now ready to jettison that view entirely. There’s a marvelous rythm to his writing, almost as if its written in poetic metre, and although he consistently flaunts conventions about repetition, layering of adjectives, and what might be considered hyperbole, his baroque language is so beautifully wrought, so assertive in its own aesthetic logic, that I now cannot see how one might separate it from his fictional cosmography. His language is the at times monolithic, at times evanescent architecture by which his world achieves its logic.

“The sailor Larsen was first to spy the jagged line of witch-like cones and pinnacles ahead, and his shouts sent everyone to the windows of the great cabined plane. Despite our speed, they were very slow in gaining prominence; hence we knew that they must be infinitely far off, and visible only because of their abnormal height. Little by little, however, they rose grimly into the western sky; allowing us to distinguish various bare, bleak, blackish summits, and to catch the curious sense of fantasy which they inspired as seen in the reddish antarctic light against the provocative background of iridescent ice-dust clouds. In the whole spectacle there was a persistent, pervasive hint of stupendous secrecy and potential revelation. It was as if these stark, nightmare spires marked the pylons of a frightful gateway into forbidden spheres of dream, and complex gulfs of remote time, space, and ultra-dimensionality. I could not help feeling that they were evil things—mountains of madness whose farther slopes looked out over some accursed ultimate abyss. That seething, half-luminous cloud background held ineffable suggestions of a vague, ethereal beyondness far more than terrestrially spatial, and gave appalling reminders of the utter remoteness, separateness, desolation, and aeon-long death of this untrodden and unfathomed austral world.”

Both quotes are from At the Mountains of Madness (1931). Image by Gutalin.

Happy New Year!


Have a good year!

Merry Christmas

Paolo Veronese, The Adoration of the Kings, 1573, London, National Gallery


Have a lovely season! Perhaps next year, I’ll try to revive this joint a little bit. Be ensured that I appreciate the patience of whoever might still occasionally be checking in.

Fandens til krig i Information


Lige her op til jul står min anmeldelse af Tardi’s Fandens til krig at læse i Information. Læs den tegneserie — det er mesterens måske definitive holmgang med værkets genkommende temaer. Årets danske tegneserieudgivelse.

Hype: Den store Storm P.-bog


Den landede for nogle uger siden, men det gør den ikke mindre aktuel. Den Store Storm P.-bog er et overflødighedshorn af den danske humorists bedste værker — valgt på tværs af tid og genre. Den dækker hele karrieren og alt fra ungdommens grove satire og ekspressionistiske maleri over banebrydende tegneserier som De tre små mænd og Nummermanden og Den kulørte side til klassiske plakater og ‘opfindelser’ og ikke mindst, alderdommens flue-bevingede visdomskondensater. Og meget mere.

Bogen er redigeret af Steffen Rayburn-Maarup fra forlaget Aben Maler i samarbejde med Storm P.-museet og Alvilda, der som bekendt i disse år har gang i en større udgivelsesrække med Storm P. Og jeg har haft æren at skrive forordet, hvilket trak tænder ud, men endte med at være en fornøjelse. Storm P. er svær at skrive om, fordi hans geni er så svært at indkredse, og fordi han bare er sjovere en dig og mig og hvad vi kan finde på at sige om ham. Men jeg har i efterhånden en del år gerne villet prøve kræfter med opgaven og her kom den så. Jeg havde givet mig selv alt for dårlig tid til at producere det gennemarbejdede essay, jeg førhen havde forestillet mig at ville skrive, men sådan er virkeligheden jo og jeg endte med at være godt tilfreds, selvom meget (‘i en perfekt drømmeverden’, som min mand Thorhauge altid siger) kunne have været bedre.

Men hul idet, det er Storm Ps. fantastiske og usigeligt morsomme tegninger det handler om, og dem har den her bog in spades. Læs den.

PS — bogen er også planlagt til udgivelse i USA, hos kvalitetsforlaget Fantagraphics. Hvornår ved jeg ikke, men du kan læse mere om det her.

Arcadia in Print Quarterly

Giulio and Domenico Campagnola, Musicians in a Landscape, c. 1517, engraving, Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett


In the latest issue of Print Quarterly (vol. XXXI, no. 4), I’ve reviewed the catalogue of the exhibition “Arcadia — Paradies auf Papier, Landschaft und Mythos in Italien”, displayed at the Kupferstichkabinett of the Staatliche Museen in Berlin earlier this year.

The exhibition was based entirely on the Kupferstichkabinett’s incredibly rich holdings and provides a stimulating overview of Arcadian imagery in Italian graphic art from c. 1440-1640.The catalogue is written by Dagmar Korbacher, Christophe Brouard and Marco Riccòmini. It contains innovative takes on especially the Venetian drawings and engravings of Giulio and Domenico Campagnola and related artists, like the above masterpiece by the two of them.

De nye genreserier i Information

Fra Rybergs Gigant


I ugens Bog(Forum)tillæg til Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af en håndfuld nye danske udgivelser med forbavsende mange fællestræk. Mit postulat er, at de er udtryk for en bredere tendens blandt tidens yngre tegneseriemagere, nemlig at ny, personligt vinklet tilgang til de traditionelle genrer.

De anmeldte tegneserier er Lars Kramhøft og Tom Kristensens Inficeret, Tatiana Goldbergs Anima, Glenn Augusts Lava og Rune Rybergs Gigant.

Læs anmeldelsen her. Men bemærk venligst, at overskriften og rubrikken (som det er reglen med avistekster) ikke er mine.

Fimbulvinter i Information


I dennes uges bogtillæg til dagbladet Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af Søren Glosimodt Mosdals tegneserie Fimbulvinter, om Erik den Røde, Leif den Lykkelige og overgangen fra den gamle til den nye orden i vikingetidens Grønland. Et bjergtagende billeddigt, men også noget af en torso, der lader de løse ender flagre. Anmeldelsen kan læses her.

Soul on Fire


This review is was originally published in Danish at Rackham in 2004 and is reprinted here as a supplement to the short essay Yvan Alagbé’s comics that I’ve just published over at The Comics Journal.

The French-Belgian publishing structure Éditions Frémok, or FRMK for short, has now been in the game for ten years, initially separately, as Belgian Frémok and French Amok, and since 2002 together. They have managed one of the most consistent and challenging publishing programs in avant-garde comics. They have unerringly emphasized the boundary-breaking, the experimental, and often fine arts-oriented comics by some of the most innovative creators in Europe, people such as Thierry van Hasselt, Olivier Marboeuf, Dennis & Olivier Deprez, Stefano Ricci, Silvestre, Kamel Khélif, Vincent Fortemps, Michael Matthys, Dominique Goblet, Martin tom Dieck, Nabile Farès, Aristophane, and the Dane Søren Mosdal.

Their publications are unequivocally high art and as such expose themselves to criticism on two flanks. One is the risk of pretentiousness and postulated profundity, the other is the inevitable comparisons with other forms of visual art, comparisons which tend to put this kind of sequential painting to a disadvantage. Unsurprisingly, FRMK’s publication history is one of precarious and not always successfully negotiating these difficulties, but the fact that they persist is entirely to their credit. It is refreshing to see somebody uncompromisingly asserting their belief in the potential of the medium to fathom the wide expressive range that has traditionally been the domain of other media. Continue reading ‘Soul on Fire’

Hype: Titian’s Early Portrait of a Man in Copenhagen


And they keep coming… although this is probably the last one in a while. Part of my core research as a fellow at Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen centred on the early Titian portrait of an elderly man (above), which is on long loan to the gallery from Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. That the sitter might just be his teacher, the great painter Giovanni Bellini, doesn’t make this sensitive portrait less interesting. The results of my research, and — crucially — that of restorer Troels Filtenborg, are now published (in Italian) for all to see in the storied journal Arte Veneta, published by the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice.

Here’s the English abstract:

The article provides a thorough examination of the Portrait of a Man by Titian in the collection of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, on permanent loan to Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen. Its provenance is laid out in unprecedented detail. A thorough technical examination reveals that the portrait was painted on top of another, cancelled one, showing a figure dressed in a red garment. It further reveals that the landscape view at left was added to what was originally a plain background. The painting’s attribution to Titian, which has been occasionally disputed, is considered and affirmed with reference to the technical evidence as well as comparable works in his oeuvre. This also provides a likely date of completion around 1512. Lastly, it is proposed that the first, overpainted sitter may have been the Venetian senator Andrea Loredan di Nicolò, for whom Titian worked his early years. As for the person portrayed in the finished picture, the long-standing if controversial hypothesis that he may be the painter Giovanni Bellini is discussed. While this identification impossible to affirm conclusively, the authors consider the arguments in favour sufficiently strong that it should not be dismissed.

The volume can be acquired directly from The Fondazione Cini, as well as from Mondadori. Or any self-respecting art library, I should think, for those understandably reluctant to fork out the big bucks.