Archive for the 'culture' Category

On the Road


I recently had the pleasure of sitting down (online) with Howard Burton of Ideas Roadshow podcast to discuss my life and work, particularly at The National Gallery in London. The resulting podcast is now online! Clocking it at over two hours, it’s rather wide-ranging covering in particularly how my life in comics intersects with that in art and how hip hop changed my life. Check it out here:

Radio Rackham: Dansk Tegneserieråds nye bestyrelse


Jeg er denne gang gæst i mit eget medie, Radio Rackham, nemlig i egenskab af ny formand i Dansk Tegneserieråd. Og jeg har tre andre bestyrelsesmedlemmer med: Marie Raasthøj Hansen, Anders Brønserud og Andreas Nordkild Poulsen. Thomas og Frederik udspørger os om vores planer og ambitioner, samt konkret om håbet om at etablere et tegneseriemuseum, samt om Nummer9 og Pingprisens fremtid. Dertil kommer vi kort omkring problemerne med flare hatte og nepotisme i det danske tegneseriemiljø. Lyt her og læs mere på Nummer9.

Radio Rackham: Dansk tegneserie i krise?


Det her er akut: Dansk Tegneserieråd er truet af opløsning, fordi den nuværende bestyrelse har besluttet sig at gå af i flok. Det betyder overhængende fare for de projekter, rådet trods alt har dannet bagkant for i en årrække: Pingprisen, Nummer9, Tegneseriemuseet i Danmark og meget mere. OK, disse var allerede plaget af problemer, men uden Dansk Tegneserieråd, står de uden en officiel instans til at bakke dem op og forhandle på deres vegne.

Vi opridser situationen på Radio Rackham i en episode, hvor jeg i øvrigt annoncerer mit kandidatur til den ny bestyrelse, der forhåbentlig vil blive valgt ind til Rådets generalforsamling nu på torsdag d. 2 september i Litteraturhaus i København. Meld dig ind i Rådet, mød op, stil op og stem! Jeg har forhørt mig og er blevet forsikret om, at man kan deltage over nettet, så check med arrangørerne, hvis du ønsker det.

Det har alt sammen været lidt trist, men jeg håber vi sammen kan være med til at skabe noget smukt fremover!

Hør mere her og læs også på Nummer9.

Titian in Boston


The exhibition of Titian’s six great so-called poesie for King Philip II (c. 1551-1562) that I helped organise at the National Gallery in London, and which showed in modified form at the Prado earlier this year, has now opened at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston under the title Titian: Women, Myth & Power.

From what I’ve seen in the press and online, I’m greatly impressed with their installation and didactic material they’ve put together, and it pleases me greatly to see these great Titians united in my American home away from home in Boston. I can’t wait hopefully to see it later in the autumn.

If you’re anyway near it, do go see it. It is truely and without hyperbole a once-in-a-lifetime chance. These are some of the great paintings of the Western tradition and they haven’t been seen together since the 1570s.

Radio Rackham: Kurt Westergaard


I sidste uge måtte vi sige farvel til Kurt Westergaard, manden der tegnede Profeten Muhammed med en bombe i turbanen og dermed var med til på godt og ondt at ændre verdens gang. Thomas, Frederik og jeg diskuterer tegningen, manden og krisen i den seneste episode fra Radio Rackham og jeg synes vi kommer både godt og vidt omkring.

Karikaturkrisen har påvirket os Rackhamitter meget, så det var en episode vi længe har haft i os. Og ligesom de fleste andre danskere, er det stensikkert ikke gjort med det: de tegninger er på sin vis mareridtet, der aldrig går væk. En torn i siden, der aftvinger stillingtagen og sjælekvaler. Læs mere på Nummer9 og lyt her!

The Shape of Time in Milan


Postponed by Covid, the exhibition La forma del tempo (‘The Shape of Time’) at the Poldi Pezzoli in Milan finally opened last month and runs till 27 September. Centred around the museum’s extraodinary collection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century clocks, it examines conceptions of time in the renaissance as expressed in the visual arts. The National Gallery has lent Titian’s Allegory of Prudence, a picture that grapples with issues of family, succession, memory and time through a creative interpretation of a traditional iconography that represents time in the form of three heads, either human or animal. Anyway, I wrote the entry for the painting and would encourage readers who are in MIlan or find themselves there to go see the show. It looks fascinating. Check our Works section for info on the catalogue.

Ruppert, Mulot, Vivès and Museum Comics


Over at Apollo, I’ve reviewed Florent Ruppert, Jérôme Mulot and Bastien Vivès’ comic The Grande Odalisque, which mobilises the art heist subgenre as a commentary on shallow elitism. The glamour of the old masters and commodification of art themtised in a modern action comic. The review also gives me the occasion to formulate a few thoughts on the emerging subgenre of museum comics and didactiic artist’s biographies in comics form.

Here, by the way, is the Laurent de la Hyre painting that gets confused with a Titian in the comic, after which it is machine-gunned:

(It’s from 1647 and can be seen at the Louvre)

Originally relesed in 2012, La grande odalisque is now available in English translation from Fantagraphics. See also my 2011 interview with Ruppert and Mulot. If you read Danish and subscribe to Information, I also discuss museum comics in this review of Peter Wandel and Rasmus Meislers Den magiske spinel.

Montana-prisen


Jeg er i år del af juryen bag Montana-prisen, dagbladet Informations litterære pris tildelt nyskabende dansk litteratur fra det forgangne år. Vi otte medlemmer har hver nomineret et værk og nu hvor jeg har læst mig igennem feltet kan jeg kun istemme litteraturredaktør Peter Nielsens beskrivelse af det som et virkelig stærkt felt. Du kan læse om det her.

Jeg selv har, som gruppens tegneserierepræsentant, nomineret Halfdan Piskets Døden — en bog der sagtens kunne være mislykket, det uundgåelige spøgelse, hans forgående store Dansker-trilogi har skabt taget i betragtning, men som for mig virker som en art konsolidering af forfatterskabet, der udkrystaliserer mange det de grundlæggende kvaliteter i Dansker-trilogiens fremstilling af serieskaberens indvandrerfaders liv på en måde, der får dem til at stå klarere. Læs min anmeldelse her, hvis du har abonnement.

Fra i dag og fire uger frem diskuterer vi i fire grupper de otte nominerede værker (se flyer ovenfor). Jeg selv optræder sammen med Bodil Skovgaard Nielsen den 23 februar, hvor vi skal diskutere Døden og den allerede internationalt renommerede Niviaq Korneliussens Blomsterdalen. Vel mødt! Tilmelding her.

Prisvinderen annonceres 3 marts. Mere om det snart.

Liv Strömquist i Information


I fredagens bogtillæg til Informationog lige her på nettet — kan man læse min anmeldelse af svenske Liv Strömquists essayistiske tegneserie Den er der ikke (Den rödaste rosen slår ut). Hermed et uddrag:

Det er selve kærligheden, det gælder. Og dens betydning i parforholdet. Det profane, popkulturelle udgangspunkt er klassisk Strömquist: Hun undrer sig over, hvordan det kan være, at Leonardo DiCaprio i årevis har datet unge undertøjs- og bikinimodeller, den ene efter den anden, og aldrig særlig længe ad gangen.

Han er »lidt ligesom en lunken kogeplade på komfuret … der aldrig rigtig får vandet til at koge. Man kan endda sætte hånden på kogepladen uden at blive brændt«. Hvad mangler der?

Køb abonnement og læs her.

Poetry in Paint: A Titian Conference at the National Gallery


This November, we staging a large virtual conference devoted to Titian’s late mythological paintings at the National Gallery. Organised by Thomas Dalla Costa and myself on the occasion of the exhibition Titian: Love Desire Death, which is still on view at Trafalgar Square (until 17 January), it will bring together scholars, conservators and scientists from Europe and North America to speak on a wide variety of topics relating to Titian and his mythological paintings, from technique to meaning and the wider context: from politics and identity to sex and violence!

The conference It will also feature four artist’s talks, with Nalini Malani, Michael Armitage, Phoebe Gloeckner and Tom de Freston — all reflecting on what Titian means to their practice and how they grapple with the enduring issues so central to his work.

The dates are 3, 10 and 17 November. You can see the full programme and register here.

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.

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.

The Week

Andrea Schiavone, the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche, c. 1550, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art


Just back from a quick trip to Venice for work. I had the opportunity to see the exhibition on Andrea Schiavone (1510-1563) currently on at the Museo Correr and will recommend it whole-heartedly. It’s the first exhibition ever devoted to this singular and very badly understood artist. The exhibition, curated by Lionello Puppi and Enrico Maria dal Pozzolo, makes a good attempt at establishing a chronology and a convincing account of his development as an artist. A difficult thing to do, since the first dated work we have from him is an etching of 1547, at which point he was well into his thirties and thus one would assume well into his career as an independent artist. It is possible to posit a small body of work that precedes this, but nothing datable to earlier than around 1540 — what was he doing before that? It’s anybody’s guess.

Also, there are a number of works that don’t seem to fit anywhere, most notably the Palazzo Pitti Cain and Abel, which relates to the 1540s mannerist turn in Venetian art and consolidates a dramatic figural configuration derived, I think from Baccio Bandinelli (look at far right), continued by those giants of Venetian art Tintoretto (also in the show) and Veronese in the early 1550s. The attribution to Schiavone of the picture goes back to the seventeenth century and the general assumption is that it must be an early work, from before he started subverting perspective, anatomy and naturalistic colour to formulate his extraordinary — sometimes clumsy, sometimes exhilarating — explorations of expressive figuration. The thing is, there’s nothing else in his known oeuvre that looks like this picture, which is closer to (though probably not by) Pordenone, that muscular mannerist of 1530s Venetian painting, than anything else.

Once we get into the 1550s, Schiavone’s development becomes somewhat clearer and some really fantastically original drawings, prints and paintings emerge. The exhibition makes a strong case for his adaptation of Parmigianino’s figural eloquence and Titian’s depth of colour his subversion of great central Italian figures — Salviati, to be sure, but more importantly, Raphael — into a distinctive idiom that, if one accepts the argument of the exhibition, actually anticipated and perhaps even inspired significant developments in the art of figures as great as Titian (who was clearly a close colleague), Tintoretto, and Jacopo Bassano.

Anyway, there’s much more to say and I don’t have the time or wherewithal to do so right now, but if you’re around Venice sometimes over the next month or so, do go see this eye-opening exhibition. It closes 10 April.

The week’s links:

  • Alan Moore! Craig Fischer had a great review up of Moore’s and Jacen Burrows’ first seven issues of the Lovecraft exegesis Providence up the week before last. It’s a great piece, which makes me look forward to reading the book, even if I’ve been largely disappointed with the direction Moore has gone in recent years. His previous Lovecraft book, Neonomicon, was mean-spirited and rather predictable horror-schlock and Crossed #100 was just plain drudgery. But it’s Moore, so it has to get a lot worse before I loose interest. Pagan Dawn had a terrific interview with Moore on magic. Holding out for Jerusalem
  • Hugh Eakin on Denmark, its immigration policy, and the refugee crisis. A great introduction to the political and social situation in Denmark that may help explain the depressing actions of the Danish government lately. Related: I found Oliver Guez’ call for increased European unity in the New York Times well stated.
  • Apple vs. FBI primer. Great one-stop guide to the specifics of the controversy. Was surprised to learn that an FBI mandated change of iCloud password landed them in this situation. What a screw-up.
  • My good colleague Xavier F. Salomon on Van Dyck’s great Portrait of Cardinal Bentivoglio, soon to be on loan from Palazzo Pitti to the Frick Collection for its exhibition Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture.
  • Remembering Malcolm X

    The Week


    The week in review

    I’ve been asked a few times about the painting that the National Gallery in London has recently cleaned and put back on display as Titian’s portrait of the physician Girolamo Fracastoro, as mentioned by Vasari in his Life of Titian of 1568. It’s a difficult one. The argument, as presented in an article in last month’s Burlington Magazine, is based partly on plausible provenance, but mostly on the fact that it it carried on the back of its frame a 19th-century note identifying its sitter as Fracastoro.

    The painting is clearly Titianesque, but rather dull. As mentioned repeatedly in the press coverage, by far the most attractive area is the lynx fur worn by the sitter — compelling tactile eruption flecking through an otherwise rather bland surface. In any case, it pales in comparison with the other Titians in the same room at the National Gallery. None of this means the attribution is wrong, however: it is apparently quite damaged, which probably accounts in large part for its somewhat unconvincing appearance, and although very consistent, Titian did have bad days.

    Another problem is the identification of the sitter. He looks quite different from known portraits of Fracastoro, such as the woodcut on right. The sitter in the painting is clearly slimmer of face and with a thinner, more elegant nose, but he is also clearly older in the woodcut, which might account in part for his fuller, more plump appearance. Plus, we still know very little about the extent to which, and how, painters at this time idealised, rejuvenated, and otherwise altered the appearance of their sitters . It’s an issue, which always makes identification of sitters in Renaissance (and later!) portraits difficult. The nineteenth-century label helps in this case, of course, but is far from proof, even if it repeats an older tradition.

    Summing up, I don’t see any reason to disagree outright with the proposal made by the gallery, which largely convinces, but cannot help but feel a little uneasy about it.

    Links!

  • TPB AFK. A lot of people are of course already unto this, and have only watched the beginning, but I’d still like to point in its direction: Simon Klose’s documentary on the Pirate Bay trial promises an important document about a important moment in the development of digital rights discourse. Youtube link.
  • Eddie Campbell on the ‘Literaries’ and reception of EC Comics. Yes! Campbell formulates much more precisely than I could important aspects of what I’ve been trying get at in my comics criticism of the past few years. A must-read for people interested in comics and how we read them.
  • David Frum on Booker T. Washington. I’ve only started digging into these stimulating posts occasioned by the publication of Robert J. Norrell’s biography of the early black American leader, but warmly recommend them. Washington has long needed the nuanced and revisionist treatment he seems to be getting now.
  • G. W. Bush, naivist painter. This is almost too weird — and good! — to be true, but these are supposed to be bathroom self-portraits by the erswhile president. His vacant expression is very well captured indeed.
  • Stephen Greenblatt on Richard III’s bones. Typically intelligent, if breezy, take on the archeological find of the week.
  • And finally, this article on the problems faced by museums when accepting gifts with stipulations from the donor is an informative read. I’ve long thought that the control exercised by donors over what happens to their collections once donated to a worthwhile institution is often counterproductive, even onerous, especially in America. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is merely one egregious example that I’ve written about in the past.