Archive for the 'pictorial arts' Category

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

Grotesker Redux

Antonio Tempesta, loftsudsmykning fra Uffizi-galleriet i Firenze, 1579-81. Foto af Pernille Klemp.


Endnu engang er jeg blevet udsat for lemfældig redaktion. Efter en længere redigeringsproces, initeret af avisen selv, lykkedes det alligevel Information at trykke en tidlig kladde i stedet for den færdige version af min anmeldelse af Maria Fabricius Hansens The Art of Transformation. Den officielle udgave, som kan læses i ugens bogtillæg og på Informations hjemmeside, er præget af fejl og bommerter, samt vendinger der måske ikke er helt ligetil og forståelige. Som en særlig service bringer jeg derfor hermed den færdige, rigtige tekst.

Renæssancens underverden
Af Matthias Wivel

I løbet af det femtende århundredes sidste årtier begyndte humanister, kunstnere og arkæologer i Rom for alvor at udforske det begravede Domus Aurea—Kejser Neros ’gyldne hus’: et enormt forlystelseskompleks, han havde bygget på byens ruiner i tiden efter den kataklysmiske brand i år 64. Efter despotens død blev store dele af det revet ned mens andre blev begravet, og med tiden svandt det fra folkeerindringen og blev legende, som så meget andet i den tidligere kejserstad.

Det underjordiske palads’ ruiner, med dets tilsandede haller, kollapsede korridorer og afsondrede kamre, nærede forestillinger om antikkens underside blandt renæssancens lærde—det hedonistiske, det uhyggelige, det uhåndgribelige, i al dets skønhed og gru. På væggene fandt de farverige dekorationer, der i disciplinerede mønstre sammensatte stiliserede planteranker og hybride fantasivæsner i imaginære arkitektoniske rammer.

Denne opdagelse accelererede udviklingen af et nyt ornamentalt vokabularium hos tidens kunstnere—et vildtvoksende dekorationssystem, der snart skulle udsmykke bygninger overalt i Italien og efterhånden også hinsides. Det dannede rammer omkring og indtog randområderne mellem de mere naturalistiske, ofte fortællende billeder og billedserier, der prydede alt fra kapeller til kunstkamre, ja, det koloniserede sågar den tredje dimension i form af arkitektonisk ornamentik og interiørdesign. Continue reading ‘Grotesker Redux’

Grotesker i Information


Luca Signorelli, fra San Brizio-kapellet i Orvietos katedral.

I ugens bogtillæg anmelder jeg Maria Fabricius Hansens store mongrafi om 1500-tallets såkaldte grotesker — et særligt ornamentsystem inspireret af antikkens dekorationsmønstre, en vildtvoksende, ofte irrationelt funderet billedverden, der ofte ses mellem og omkring de mere rationelt formulerede narrative billeder, der ofte udsmykkede bygningsværker. Bogen, som er baseret på mange års forskning, forskyder sig i mange retninger og bliver en art kortlægning af det ubevidste, det uhøjtidelige og det uhyggelige i renæssancens billedverden. Stærkt anbefalelsesværdig. Læs anmeldelsen her (men penge).

Lazarus explained


At the National Gallery we’re currently running a series of half-hour lunchtime lectures on the history of the Gallery told through six key paintings. I kicked off the series a couple of weeks ago with a talk on a painting that has become near and dear to me for perhaps obvious reasons, The Raising of Lazarus by Sebastiano del Piombo, from partial designs by Michelangelo. It was an ideal place to start since it was the first painting inventorised at the founding of the National Gallery in 1824, with the number NG1. See it above. The talks are all available at the National Gallery’s YouTube page.

Lorenzo Lotto Portraits


For the past couple of years I’ve been working with Miguel Falomír, director of the Museo del Prado in Madrid, and Professor Enrico Maria dal Pozzolo of the University of Verona, to bring you this exquisite exhibition of one of the greatest portraitists of the Western tradition, Lorenzo Lotto (1480-1557). It gives me great pleasure finally to see it open in Madrid tomorrow, where it will remain till 30 September before travelling to London for a more concise showing between 5 November and 10 February. It includes a large, varied selection of his portraits as well as a number of objects of the kind he depicted with such care in them — jewellery, books, sculptures, clothing, carpets… — for what I hope will function as an extension of portraiture and our understanding of it into so-called material culture.

Lotto is one of the great idiosyncratic artists of the Renaissance, painting like nobody else. His religious paintings are full of energy, humour, and a striking down-to-earth pathos, as are his portraits which are amongst the most varied and empathetic of the period. Itinerant for most of his life, he found the greatest success in his early career in Treviso in the first decade and especially Bergamo in the second, though he continued to produce fascinating, personal work through his late, depressed years.

Rarely able to attract the kind of elite clientele that was available to his great contemporary Titian, he distinguished himself for posterity by painting mostly the emerging bourgeoisie, the demographic that would increasingly dominate European politics, economy and culture down to the present day. His portraits seem remarkably frank, warts-and-all without being ostentatious about it, and as mentioned deeply empathetic. His sitters always invariably appear interesting to us, as if the artist is bringing forward their unique qualities for us to contemplate, not just on their behalf but on the behalf of humanity.

Conceived by Miguel and consolidated by Enrico, who is one of the premier Lotto specialists working today, the exhibition is one to which I’ve contributed mostly as a junior partner, but I am proud of the results, also of my own labour on it. The Prado has produced the catalogue, which we hope will stand as a significant contribution to Lotto scholarship, as well as an easy to access introduction to his activities as a portraitist and the historical and social context within which he worked. I’ve contributed the entries on the portrait drawings and the National Gallery’s three Lotto portraits, among other things. Do seek it out if you’re interested, and most importantly go see the exhibition. Please note that the exhibition is significantly larger at the Prado, which is definitely the place to see it for completists and specialists, while it will be more select, but hopefully no less beautiful and poignant at the National Gallery.

Enjoy!

Leonardo i Information


I den forgangne weekends bogtillæg til Information har jeg skrevet en anmeldelse af Taschens nyudgivelse af kunsthistoriker Frank Zöllners monografi og oeuvrekatalog over Leonardo da Vincis malerier fra 2003. Den nye udgave udmærker sig ved et nyt forord, der giver en overflyvning af den bemærkelsesværdige udvikling, der er sket i Leonardo-forskningen siden da, først og fremmest med en grundig gennemgang af Verdens Dyreste Kunstværk (TM), Salvator Mundi (ovenfor), der som bekendt blev solgt på auktion sidste år for $450 millioner og efter sigende snart vil blive udstillet på det nyåbnede Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Grundlæggende er bogudgivelsen en opportunistisk, om end en som altid smukt illustreret, lappeløsning fra Taschens side, men den giver anledning til nogle overvejelser netop over hvor vi er i Leonardo-forskningen, samt nogle tanker om hvorfor Leonardo er verdens mest berømte kunstner. Læs bag paywallen her.

Picasso 1932 i Weekendavisen

Kvinde i rød lænestol, 1932, Paris, Musée Picasso


Ugen går på hæld, men jeg synes alligevel jeg lige ville gøre opmærksom på at seneste udgave af Weekendavisen indeholder min anmeldelse af den fantastiske Picasso-udstilling der lige nu kan ses på Tate Modern i London. Den er tilmed tilgængelig gratis på nettet her (farverne er helt i skoven, desværre). Læs, og se udstillingen hvis du kan!

Ovenfor har jeg reproduceret et af de billeder, jeg beskriver i detaljer og som redaktøren ikke kunne finde plads til. Supplement!

The Renaissance in Six Pictures

Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434


A bit late here with this, but still thought I’d post it: as part of the BBC Civilisations Festival, which is approaching the end of its run, I wrote this piece on the European Renaissance, in which I try to convey as sense of its meaning and significance through close looking at six pictures from the National Gallery’s collection (the Gallery is a partner in the festival). 200 words each. Not easy, especially considering that, whether you like it or not, any such endeavour will be made in the ghostly shade of Kenneth Clark, whose original 1969 documentary series is still at high watermark in television about art, ideological criticisms be damned. Oh yeah, this all is of course prompted by the current revival of the concept at the BBC with their Civilisations, which so far I’ve found more admirable than inspiring, but still well worth watching for the many insights and the passion of its three hosts and its occasionally inspired editing.

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!

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 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.

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.