Monthly Archive for August, 2014

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.