Archive for the 'commentary and criticism' Category

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.

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.

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.

Danske avantgarde-tegneserier i Information

Fra Allan Haverholms When the Last Story Is Told


Efter længere tids fravær er jeg i dag tilbage i Informations bogtillæg med en anmeldese af en række tegneserieudgivelser af den mere utvetydigt litterært/kunstnerisk orienterede art: Signe Parkins & Drawings, Michelangelo Setola og Edo Chieregatos Snuder på lastbiler, Rikke Villadsen og Bjørn Rasmussens første to bind i deres serie Ni piger, og Allan Haverholms When the Last Story Is Told. Læs den her, nu hvis du har abonnement, om nogle uger, hvis ikke. Eller køb avisen på papir!

Og lige en påmindelse: overskrift, underrubrik og billedtekster er stort set aldrig mine på disse artikler. Ikke at jeg nødvendigvis er utilfreds, men sådan fungerer det.

PAW 50!

Paw Mathiasen skoler rosset i boghåndværk, Angoulême 2007 (forstør for yderligere indsigt)


“Glæden ved tegneserier indgår i den store livscyklus. ‘Nuff said!” Sådan sagde Paw Mathiasen i et interview for ti år siden, på et tidspunkt hvor man kan sige at han var steget ind sin fase 3 — den hvor han virkelig begyndte at gøre sig gældende som fuldtidsforlægger med bredt udsyn og en ambition om arbejdet med tegneserier som levevej. De to tidligere faser i denne forsimpling af Paws fine, fornemme og facetterede karriere i dansk tegneserie er naturligvis Fanzine-perioden, hvor en ellers hensynende grund blev gødet med Fat Comic og anden aktivisme, og så Fahrenheit-perioden op gennem halvfemserne og et stykke ind i nullerne, hvor Paw nærmest ene mand sørgede for, at der stadig blev udgivet danske tegneserier hinsides den meget snævre mainstream og samtidig stille, roligt og også lidt rodet introducerede danske læsere for den store udvikling, der var ved at tage fart i udlandet.

Fahrenheit er ganske enkelt den væsentligste danske tegneserieantologi de sidste tre årtier. Det samme gælder forlaget Fahrenheit på dets område. Man kan muligvis til tider have savnet en redaktionel linje, men det er nok samtidig en af hemmelighederne bag forlagets sejlivethed og brede betydning. Det ganske enkelt svært at forestille sig den opblomstring af dansk tegneserie og dansk tegneseriekultur, vi ser i dag uden. Paw har holdt faklen højt i op mod fyrre år og står fortsat som en konstant, varm og progressiv kraft et sted i kulturens hjerte. Fra Godfather til gryende Grand Old Man, med familie i nuet og en fortid at kigge stolt tilbage på. Cyklens fase fire—fremtiden—venter.

Tak og tillykke Paw!

UPDATE: Der er en stor fødselsdagsgave til Paw fra venner og kolleger på Nummer9.

Back at Roskilde


I spent parts of the last few days at the Roskilde Festival covering its hip hop programme for the Danish hip hop website Rapspot. I unfortunately missed most of the two first days, but managed to catch some great music on Friday and Saturday. At this stage of post-Brexit chaos, it was particularly great to see some of London’s finest uniting us in mosh. Fantastic.

If you read Danish, my coverage is here, here, and here. Astrid Maria B. Rasmussen, who took the above photo of Stormzy, has posted several great photo galleries from the festival here, here, here, and here (graffiti).

Mary Wept at the Comics Journal


My by this point extremely irregular column on European comics at The Comics Journal is making a bit of a departure today, presenting a critical assessment of the very Canadian and thus non-European master cartoonist Chester Brown’s new book of Biblical exegesis Mary Wept over the Feet of Jesus. In some ways an addendum to his last, fascinating and conflicted confessional, Paying for It, in some an extension of his nineties Gospel adaptations, and in others his to date perhaps deepest descent into hermetic eccentricity, it is worth a read.

I actually think that Brown is one of the single cartoonists about whom I’ve written the most. A lot of it is accessible right here at this site.

I morgen bliver bedre i Information


Min anmeldelse af Karoline Stjernfelts albumdebut I morgen bliver bedre bind 1 bragtes en anelse forsinket i lørdagens Informer. Læs den her (hvis du har abonnement…). Nåja, og så bør du absolut læse Henry Sørensens langt mere udførlige anmeldelse på Nummer9, samt hans interview med skaberen.

How Did We End Up Here?

In their first issue following the terrorist bombings in Brussels, Charlie Hebdo published a leading article, signed editor-in-chief Riss, which displays some of the worst tendencies of the magazine (English version here). In it, Riss seems to hold accountable all Muslims for the actions of terrorists, skewing dangerously close to the kind of rhetoric employed by fascists. To regular readers, however, it seems clear that what he is doing is criticising the reluctance among Muslims to question aspects of their faith, parts of their holy scripture, that motivate jihadist violence. He specifically mentions the scholar and commentator Tariq Ramadan, with whom the magazine has a bit of an ongoing feud, as somebody influential who glosses over these issues in his efforts to teach non-Muslims about Islam. Riss’ other main target are multiculturalist non-Muslims who similarly prefer not to debate these issues and call out people who do as ‘islamophobes.’

The thing is, there are points to be made here: surveys made among Western Muslims indicate how widespread casual anti-semitism and homophobia are, how paternalistic attitudes toward women can be, and demonstrate surprisingly little discomfort with such passages of scripture as those that condemn to death apostates and women guilty of adultery. Obviously, surveys are not the whole truth, and I assume that most Western Muslims actually have a much more nuanced approach to life than statistics may lead one to think, but it does seem that there is remarkably little open debate about such issues among Muslims. This despite the fact that some of these attitudes and doctrine are anathema to a society built on the rights of the individual and constitute part of the foundations of jihadist terrorism. Similarly, left-wing and multiculturalist efforts to downplay them or place the blame for jihadist terrorism quasi-exclusively with Western foreign and integration policy (important as those factors are) are not doing anybody any favours either, least of all Muslim dissidents.

Unfortunately, very little of this comes across in Riss’ sloppy and sensationalist op-ed. It’s as if he is talking in the same blunt register as he does in his political cartoons, but without the humour. His defense of secularism–in itself essential to our societal model–is shrill and paranoiac. In the English translation of the piece, he (or perhaps his translator) even likens the purported conspiracy of silence described to terrorism. Strangely, and perhaps somewhat reassuringly, this passage is absent from the French original. The absurd claim that a Muslim baker who does not serve pork is somehow infringing our rights to eat what we like and thereby is complicit in terrorism, however, is present in both and is an execrable example that threatens to remove all sense from his argument–confirming the fundamentally unjust caricature of Charlie as a bigoted, hateful publication.

Of course, the editorial was written by someone who has been on the receiving end of jihadist Kalashnikovs. I expect this makes him see certain things more clearly than I, but it is also well known that anger does not make for great politics.

Piskets trilogi i Information


I dagens bogtillæg til Information anmelder jeg Halfdan Piskets Dansker, tredje bind i hans mesterlige trilogi om hans fars liv — ja, egentlig er det en anmeldelse af hele trilogien. Læs den her, hvis du har abonnement, og læs evt. også min anmeldelse fra sidste år af trilogiens første bind, Desertør. Nåja, og læs også dette interview, foretaget af Ralf Christensen.