Archive for the 'commentary and criticism' Category

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Fuglemanden, en McGraphic Novel


Så kører det. Denne uge er der i Informations (nydesignede) bogtillæg endnu en af mine tegneserienameldelser, af Sarah Engell og Lillian Brøggers Fuglemanden. Den er er jeg ikke vild med. Hermed et kort uddrag af anmeldelsen:

Tegneserieformen konsoliderer sig for tiden i litteraturverdenen. Etablerede forlag, der mestendels gør sig i bøger uden billeder, har med fremkomsten af den såkaldte ’graphic novel’ fået færten af en form, som kan noget nyt og andet og samtidig trives i et litterært register. Forfattere, filmfolk, illustratorer og andet godtfolk prøver kræfter med tegninger og talebobler. Resultatet er det fremvoksende fænomen, man kunne kalde en McGraphic Novel.

… nu har ungdomsforfatter Sarah Engell og illustrator Lillian Brøgger – kendte og respekterede skikkelser på deres respektive felter – signeret en vaskeægte tegneserie med titlen Fuglemanden. Den er nærmest indbegrebet af en McGraphic Novel. En tegneserie i bogform, der behandler et ’alvorligt’ emne og fastholder litterær dekorum. Der er hak i alle de rigtige kasser.

Læs den her, ed abonnement.

Signe Parkins i Information


Efter laaang tid er jeg tilbage i Information med en tegneserieanmeldelse. Det gælder Signe Parkins’ helstøbte tegneserielyrik Tusindfryd. Læs her, men beware the paywall.

Michelangelo in the Burlington


This month’s issue of The Burlington Magazine (vol. 60, #1378) includes my lengthy review of Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer, still on for another week at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (until 12 February). Here’s a short, summary excerpt:

A curatorial triumph, with individual exhibits
selected with confidence and intelligence, the exhibition
offers an exceptional opportunity to understand and appreciate
Michelangelo’s art and creative mind at the most intimate level.
However, while this well suits those ready to devote a long
time to it, one wonders whether, for the more casual visitor, so
comprehensive an approach through sheer accumulation might
flatten the impact of individual objects – many of which would
be centrepieces in other displays.

In it, I also discuss the very forceful attribution to Michelangelo that curator Carmen C. Bambach advances for the picture illustrated above, from the Kimbell. Ostensibly Michelangelo’s first painting — executed in when he was a pre-teen or in his early teens — it is a compelling work that could be by him, but about which I am not alone in habouring certain doubts.

Anyway, read the Burlington at your local art library!

Claveloux på Nummer9

Fra mesterværket "La main verte"/"The Green Hand"


På tegneseriesitet Nummer9 har jeg netop brudt med lang tids stener og publiceret en anmeldelse! OK, det er en slags genoptryk af en tekst, jeg skrev til The Comics Journal sidste år, men alligevel — hop over på Nieren og check mit take på den nyligt udkomne amerkanske udgave af Nicole Claveloux’ (og Edith Zhas) fantastiske — på enhver måde — tegneserier fra sidst i halvfjerdserne/begyndelsen af firserne. Nogle af de mest overrumplende og naturligt originale tegneserier, jeg længe har læst.

Michelangelo i Weekendavisen

Siddende mandling model, ca. 1510+12, Wien, Albertina


I dennes uges udgave af Weekendavisen anmelder jeg den store Michelangelo-udstilling på The Metropolitan Museum of Art i New York og gør mig i den forbindelse nogle tanker om Michelangelos næsten eksklusive fokus på kroppen i sin kunst. Læs avisen, hvis I har mulighed for det!

Christmas odds and ends


So it’s nearly Christmas and I realise that I’ve been running behind even on the self-promotion (such as it is) in here. Fear not, I’ll have you caught up in no time, or just in time to wish you a merry one.

ITEM My exhibition Michelangelo & Sebastiano, which showed at the National Gallery last spring, was nominated for Exhibition of the Year at the Apollo Awards. Although we were beaten for the award by the amazing Raphael exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, it was needless to say an honour to be considered. I am proud of the work we did, warts and all, and hope some of you had the chance to come see it.

ITEM Speaking of Michelangelo and Raphael, they are — of course — two parts of the ‘Big Three’ constellation we are currently showing in room 20 at the National. The Royal Academy generously lent us Michelangelo’s Taddei tondo for Michelangelo and Sebastiano and have let us keep it till the end of January while they’re renovating and preparing its new display in time for their anniversary. For various reasons, my full online interpretation treatment on went live a few weeks ago. You can look at it here, and you can of course watch my Facebook Live introduction — previously posted – here.

Cornelis Cort after design by Titian, The Annunciation, second state, c. 1566, engraving


ITEM I reviewed Peter Lüdemann’s Tiziano. Le botteghe e la grafica in the December issue of The Burlington Magazine. on the use of graphic media in the Titian workshop. A stimulating if slightly incoherent book, which at times skirts the difficult issues but nevertheless collates little-studied material in enlightening ways. Here are my concluding remarks:

Lüdemann’s book is a welcome
addition to the literature. In addition
to providing the first analytical overview of
print production both in Titian’s workshop
and outside it, its central argument about
collaboration is strong. Titian himself never
cut, engraved or etched, which means that
any consideration of prints relating to his
output necessarily involves his workshop
practice and his arrangements with fellow
artists, printmakers and printers. It should
be obvious to any reader of this flawed but
fascinating book that the prints, and indeed
the drawings relating to them or otherwise
analogous to their function, are a particularly
illuminating key to a better understanding
of Titian’s work as a whole.

Read it at your local art library!

ITEM Our Christmas video series at The National Gallery this year focuses on gold as its theme. I participated briefly (see above) in the section devoted to the gilding of frames, discussing with our Head of Framing Peter Schade the spectacular altarpiece frame he created for the Gallery’s Raising of Lazarus by Sebastiano and Michelangelo, which debuted in the aforementioned exhibition and is now on view around the painting in the Gallery’s room 8.

Merry Christmas!

The Green Hand at The Comics Journal


So, I already have another Common Currency column up at The Comics Journal. I know, crazy right? Anyway, it’s basically a standard review of French artist and writer Nicole Claveloux’ The Green Hand, just now reissued in a handsome English-language edition by New York Review Comics. I make the case that especially the tile story is a largely forgotten masterpiece, representing a road not really taken in the form until perhaps recently. In part because comics have been so bad at accomodating woman creators, again until recently. Things are changing. Go, read.

Common Currency – The Return!


Finally, after I don’t even want to think about how long, I’m back at The Comics Journal with an installment of my column on European Comics. While I’ve been writing other things there, I have been neglecting that particular commitment. And no, my last one didn’t really count, as it was about the very non-European Chester Brown.

So, click over to read my piece on how the newfound freedom occasioned by the international New Wave of comics in the nineties and early naughts is causing some confusion among even very talented cartoonists today, resulting in a lot of spectacular-looking, ambitious-seeming comics that don’t amount to all that much. Includes reviews of work by Olivier Josso Hamel, Yannis la Macchia and Antoine Marchalot. Go go go!

Above: from Yannis la Macchia’s Des batisseurs.

Teknokosmos

Jack Kirby, Joe Sinnott og Stan Lee, fra "This Man... This Monster!", Fantastic Four #51 (1966)

I sidste uges udgave af Weekendavisen kunne man læse min artikel om Jack Kirby, skrevet i anledning af hundredeåret for hans fødsel 28 august i år. På grund af en redaktionsfejl, trykte avisen desværre en kladde i stedet for den grundigt omskrevne — og i mine øjne væsentlig bedre — udgave af min tekst. Da det er for sent at rette op på i sig selv, bringer jeg derfor den egentlige, færdige tekst her. Med ekstra billeder. God læselyst!

Jack Kirby er energi! Spændstigt trukne linjer, intenst strålende parallelskraveringer, kompakte sorte prikker, der sitrer på papiret. Kantede figurer, heroiske af statur, med ansigterne fortrukne af følelser og hænderne strakt mod os i voldsom forkortning. De brydes i eksplosive slagsmål, deres kroppe i fejende bevægelse. Vildtvoksende arkitekturer og teknologiske abstraktioner, kvasi-kubistisk undfanget i hvad der kunne være den femte dimension. Sammenstillingen af grovkornet hverdag og bjergtagende kosmiske panoramaer. Billeder der truer med at bryde rammerne. Continue reading ‘Teknokosmos’

Danish Comics of the Year 2016


Here’s my contribution to Paul Gravett’s annual review of international comics: the best Danish comics of 2015, in my opinion. A bit of a fallow year, but the ones that were good, were really good. Here they are:

Hvad føler du lige nu? (‘What are you feeling right now?’)
by Philip Ytournel
Aben maler
Ytournel is the brightest and probably funniest newspaper cartoonist in Denmark. At their best, his strips break the old, long-established boundaries in terms of format, medium and — most importantly — humour, demonstrating that editorial cartooning can be different and creative, in spite of prescriptive tradition. And he is just plain funny, blending political with keenly observed, social satire. He has an eye for the absurdity and vanity in the banal details of diction and posture that other cartoonists either don’t notice or find too shallow to mine for commentary. This book collects his best work from more than a decade’s worth of work at the daily newspaper Politiken, including his brilliant 2013 comics inset on Søren Kierkegaard, written and drawn on the occasion of the world-famous Danish philosopher’s bicentenary. In it, he not only provides an ‘Existentialism for Beginners-type intro, but also comments hilariously on recent reception history and attendant controversy, and most poignantly situates Kierkegaard’s relevance to the average life of an average person wanting to be a football coach.

Dansker (’Dane’)
by Halfdan Pisket
Fahrenheit
The third and final volume in Pisket’s poetic and hard-hitting biography of his Armenian-Turkish immigrant father focuses on his slow and always imperfect settlement, not only in Danish society but into his role as father. Here are links to my reviews on this site of the first volume and . Through his David B-esque blank writing and suggestive, symbolist chiaroscuro, Pisket achieves a remarkable feat of hermeneutic empathy in portraying his own young self externally — through the eyes of his traumatised, criminal and in many ways irresponsible father. We come to understand, even sympathise with him, and we sense that the cartoonist himself does too, through the act of writing and drawing it out. While this means that the more ambiguous feelings expressed through his portrayal in the more powerful earlier volumes are somewhat neglected, it is beautifully moving.

Here are my picks for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, 2014, and 2015.

The Big 3 at The National Gallery


With the Michelangelo and Sebastiano exhibition closed at National Gallery we are privileged to hold on to Michelangelo’s marble Taddei Tondo from the Royal Academy until the end of January, while they complete the bicentennial refurbishment. This has given us the opportunity to show the sculpture along with a number of paintings from our collection by Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael, the three foundational figures of what we have come to know as the High Renaissance.

The display is on in room 20 of the North Galleries, smack dab in the middle of our new display of Dutch and Flemish seventeenth-century paintings, incongruously but necessarily because of logistics. If you’re in London, I encourage you to visit what I think is a compelling display telling the story of the creative and, to a lesser extent, personal interrelations of these three very different giants of art.

If you wish to know more, do check my introduction to the display via Facebook Live.

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

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.