The Week

Paolo Veronese, The Conversion of Mary Magdalene, about 1548, oil on canvas, 117.5 x 163.5 cm. London, The National Gallery.


In a couple of weeks’ time, we’re opening the first major show of the works of Venetian Renaissance artist Paolo Veronese in decades at the National Gallery. Although it falls within my area of responsibility and will therefore occupy much of my time for the next few months, it’s an exhibition I have had nothing to do with, having started at the gallery only a few months ago. But needless to say one I’m looking forward to immensely: it’s a privilege thus to be dropped into the midst of a great project on an artist of immense generosity.

It’s not just that his pictures pull out all the stops, that his art is a rarely paralleled display of elegance, magnificence, and virtuosity, it’s that there is something profoundly touching about those qualities in his work. He is one of the few artists who really understood the lessons of Raphael. His immaculate sense of composition, his grasp of form, two- as well as three-dimensional, his sensitive use of gesture, and the subtlety of his portrayal of human interaction are all elements in what seems to me a distinctly civilising art, to paraphrase Kenneth Clark’s characterisation of Raphael. Contemplating Veronese is not only a joy, it makes you feel better about life and who we are.

That’s the high register. Keep an eye on the NG website for further thoughts and more concrete analysis during the course of the exhibition. I’ll keep you posted here and on twitter.

Links:

  • “There Are Good Guys and Bad Guys.” Bhob Stewart’s classic essay on/obituary of Wally Wood reprinted at the Comics Journal to mark the passing of its author. RIP. Read it, it is one of the most evocative, personal texts of its kind in comics. Really brings the great, flawed cartoonist to life.
  • Nikoline Werdelin interviewed. Arguably the greatest living Danish cartoonist, Werdelin has rarely if ever been interviewed about her comics (she has often talked to journalists about other things — life, style, death, and everything in between), so this in-depth, work-oriented interview by Thomas Thorhauge is a major scoop. Unfortunately it is only available in Danish, as is indeed the case with most of her work. English readers can sample her in From Wonderland with Love.
  • Finally, this uncredited photo, from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, is arresting, sobering, terrible. A reminder that something has to be done there. A no-fly zone blocking the government’s use of their air force remains a good place to start.
  • Trondheim on the Angoulême Grand Prix

    Illustration by Trondheim of the Angoulême mascot (designed by him) and Bill Watterson's Calvin

    Over at The Comics Journal, I’ve just posted a small article on the recent changes to the Grand Prix awarded at the Angoulême comics festival, this year to Bill Watterson. It is arguably the greatest formal honor bestowed in the comics world, and any change brings with it controversy, of course. I asked the great cartoonist, and member of the Grand Prix awarding body, Lewis Trondheim to help me out a bit. Check it out.

    Danish Comics of the Year 2013


    Once again, Paul Gravett has taken a trip around the globe for his annual survey of the best in world comics. And as usual, I’ve contributed a small list of what I consider the best/most notable Danish comics of last year. Read the full list here and here, but just in case, here’s my contribution: Continue reading ‘Danish Comics of the Year 2013′

    Notable Comics Criticism of 2013

    From Jim Woodring's Fran, a comic Joe McCulloch made me appreciate more, even if the cartoonist's recent work has left me a bit cold


    Once again, Ng Suat Tong has posted an overview of some of the best comics criticism published online in the year gone by over at the Hooded Utilitarian. In previous years, he has gathered differing juries consisting of a fairly wide range of critics, but this year he has dispensed with that in favor of just selecting a bunch of pieces on his own.

    And once again, I’m flattered to be included on his list, especially considering just how little I’ve written in the past year. I’ve kept wanting to, but other things just kept getting in the way, and much as I want to say things are going to be different, that probably won’t change much in the coming year. Anyway, it was nice to see my piece on Abel Lanzac (aka. Antonin Baudry) and Christophe Blain’s Quai d’Orsay and Willem’s Degeulasse, written for The Comics Journal last August, mentioned. Especially since so many really excellent pieces (as well as some fairly mediocre one, it has to be said) were included.

    Suat’s taking stock, which has now been running for five years, remains a valuable service to the corner of the comics internet interested in serious writing about the art form, and I for one am grateful that he still makes the effort. Also, he continues to write outstanding comics criticism himself: from the last year, I particularly liked his critique of Michael Deforge(‘s critics), his appreciation of The Trigan Empire, his essay on Daniel Clowes’ because of Shia Laboef now rather famous “Justin M. Damiano”, his examination of Suehiro Maruo’s The Strange Tale of Panorama Island, and his head-scratching dissection of a particularly lauded xkcd story.

    Now, don’t waste more time here — go check out the list.

    Ruijters i Information


    I Informations bogtillæg fra i fredags stod min anmeldelse af Marcel Ruijters De hellige, udgivet på dansk af forlaget Forlæns, at læse. Du kan se den her.

    The Week

    The week in review

    It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and it will probably be a while yet before I do another one. Much happening in terms of relocating more permanently to London, so… but I just felt the itch to post something here wishing you all (those of you still reading this rather stagnant page) a happy new year. Over the holiday I rekindled my interest in the civil rights movement and black liberation in the US by reading Manning Marable’s fantastic, and controversial, biography of Malcolm X, A Life of Reinvention. Presenting by far the most nuanced view of this complex figure so far, it does more to make him human, real, in the reader’s eye than just about anything else I’ve read. My one quibble is that by being so scrupulous about presenting the details of his life, warts and all, it tends to lose sight of what made him, this leader who achieved very little in terms of concrete political results, such a crucial figure in modern American history. It lacks sufficient exegesis on his words and thoughts, despite an excellent closing chapter that aims to provide perspective. But don’t let that deter if you have any interest in American history or the civil rights movement. It’s a great book.

    With that, I figured I’d post the above video of Malcolm X speaking in Oxford (close to home for me now, that’s why, I guess!) in 1964, five or six months after having broken with the Nation of Islam. It’s a remarkable encapsulation of the fluctuating state of his thought at that moment, starting with a forceful statement of principle — the nature of American racism, the use of violence — entirely consistent with his earlier, more confrontational rhetoric, passes through a Barry Goldwater quote as well — poignantly — as one from Hamlet, to an approchement to the civil rights movement and embrace of the vote as a potential game changer for black Americans. And he ends on a universalist, revolutionary call for action. There are greater moments to be found in his many speeches and interviews (the Malcolm X Project at Columbia University is a good place to start learning more), but I love the eclecticism and coherence of this clip.

    More links:

  • For those that missed it, Barton Gellman of the Washington Post interviewed Edward Snowden at some length last week. The paper also provided a disturbing perspective on the development of quantum computers and what it may mean for universal surveillance.
  • For Danish readers, this piece on how Green Growth has become a global buzzword over the last ten years , loosening the purse strings of corporations as well as government worldwide, is worth checking out. The same goes for Rune Lykkeberg’s piece on how the centre-left seems to have taken back the microphone in the Danish discourse on moral values.
  • Happy New Year!

    Merry Christmas

    Jan Gossaert, The Adoration of the Kings, 1510-15, oil on panel, 177.2 x 161.3 cm. London, The National Gallery

    MADIBA

    mandela.jpg

    At the National


    It’s been a month already, and it’s been the blast. This is my new workplace — I’m doing my best to be steward to a mind-blowing collection of Italian paintings, with some really big shoes to fill. (Wish me luck). It’s still a little unreal, not the least because I’m still segueing between Copenhagen and London, moving only in January. In between at the National.

    Happy Thanksgiving!


    Barks. ‘Nuff said!

    Kurt Trampedach RIP


    One of the great painters of his generation, in Denmark and internationally, Kurt Trampedach died a few days ago at age 70. When he was good, he painted the human condition as lonely and traumatic, but ever inquisitive and seeking. He was a close friend of my father’s, so his images came to mark my childhood, as did his voice and occasional alert presence. My best memories of him are from a childhood summer vacation spent in his mountainside home in the Basque Country, and seeing him ecstatic, wielding a huge wine glass filled with Schweppes Bitter Lemon, at the reception for the retrospective exhibition my father organized of his work at Sophienholm, Lyngby in 2001. He was talking his head off, hugging friends and strangers, high on life and art.

    Rest in peace.

    For those with Danish: My dad on his friend, Peter Michael Hornung’s fine obituary,and Peter Laugensen’s, Steen Baadsgaards excellent 1995 documentary on Trampedach’s life at that immensely fertile point in his career. Oh, and you could own the above picture.

    Kvinder i tegneserier i Information


    I fredags publicerede Information en artikel om kvinder i tegneserier i deres specielle bogtillæg sammensat i anledning af Bogforum. Den var skrevet af mig. Desværre havde jeg været så letsinding at sende dem en kladde, der bestod af flere halvfærdige og senere slettede afsnit, som kun til en vis grad hang sammen. Dog nok til at den kunne trykkes.

    Ret foruroligende at kunne konstatere, at man er så defekt, når man sidder og arbejder til deadline. Heldigvis er det nu en ny uge, hvilket betyder at bogtilægget er historie og de fleste eksemplarer sandsynligvis er smidt ud (eller snart bliver det) af læserne, og på avisen har de i mellemtiden været så flinke at uploade den rigtige, færdige version af artiklen, som bl.a. indeholder anmeldelser af Margaux Motins Egentlig ville jeg så gerne have vaeret antropolog… (billede ovenfor), Marten Vande Wieles Paris og Aben Malers dagbogsantologi Jeg tegner, når jeg skriver, såvel som korte omtaler af Maren Uthaug og Stine Spedsbergs tegnede blogs.

    Primært er artiklen dog et forsøg på meget kursorisk at skitsere en væsentlig udvikling indenfor tegneserien, set med danske øjne — med alt hvad der følger af kønsdiskurs og -kontroverser.

    Hele herligheden kan læses her.

    Comics at the Copenhagen Book Fair


    Once again, the Danish comics grassroots are banding together to create a large area devoted to comics at the Copenhagen Book Fair, Bogforum. The Danish Comics Council is teaming up with a number of other organisations to bring to the guests lots of comics goodness, including live drawing, interviews, workshops and much more. I’m not yet sure I will be able to attend myself, but I may drop in, and if I do I expect to see you there!

    More info (in Danish) here and here. And Malene Hald has an overview of everything comics related (including stuff taking place outside the comics area) at the fair.

    Images from the comics area at last year’s Bogforum, including a pap of internationally acclaimed director Bille August reading comics.

    Taniguchi i Information


    I fredagens bogtillæg til dagbladet Information stod min anmeldelse af Jiro Taniguchi og Hiromi Kawakamis Senseis mappe at læse. For jer, der ikke har papirudgaven, kan den også læses på nettet.