Still at large


Today, and on Saturday, it happened a year ago. In some ways it wasn’t all that new, nor unexpected — jihadist terrorist attacks have happened all over Europe with increasing frequency for the last 10-15 years, and several lower key attempts had been made to silence Charlie Hebdo. In fact, it remains scandalous that they weren’t protected better — the attack on their offices could have been prevented.

Anyway, it seems like a watershed in Europe, creating a “before and after” in many people’s minds. The even more horrible attack in Paris on 13 November, while certainly shocking, only confirmed that everyone is at risk, not only cartoonists or Jews. Beyond that, there is a creeping, dangerous sense of “business as usual.” Probably because that is what it has become to us. Jihadist terrorism is surely here to stay for the foreseeable future, because its root causes are not going to disappear any time soon. And sadly, the influx of refugees from various Muslim majority countries probably isn’t going to help that particular problem. While we should clearly be doing more to help refugees — it is the only right thing to do — the challenges of integration are hard to deny, just like the prospects of peace in the Middle East and Afghanistan remain depressingly bleak. Continue reading ‘Still at large’

Florentine portraiture in the Burlington!

Jacopo Pontormo, Portrait of a young lute player, c.1529–30. Oil on panel, 81.2 by 57.7 cm. Private collection.


Just a quick heads up: the latest issue of the Burlington Magazine January 2016, No. 1354, vol. 158) includes my review of the excellent exhibition of Florentine sixteenth-century portraiture. Curated by Carlo Falciani, it is showing at the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris till 26 January. Do go see it if you can, it’s a real treat.

An excerpt, on the amazing portrait reproduced above:

…Pontormo’s rarely seen and excellently preserved portrait of a Portrait of a young lute player from a private collection (c.1529–30…) Everything is shaped by the artist’s peculiar temperament: the globular head, the swelling torso, the voluminous lute and the tubular pink sleeves that billow as though hot hair were blowing through them: a picture as much about circular movement as it is about the boy behind
the mask.

The Week


Writing extemporally what’s on my mind was kind of the point of these posts back when I was doing them regularly (i.e. almost weekly), so I guess that’s what I’ll do here for this brief resurfacing on my blog.

It’s a new year, and as usual it holds promise while simultaneously carrying a lot of baggage with it. Just these first few days remind us that people are still dying on the beaches of Europe while an increasingly destructive civil was is going on in the Middle East, Sweden — my neighbouring country as I write this — is instating universal ID checks at the border for the first time in generations, costing the country millions and reminding us all of the profundity of the problem we’re facing in Europe. Oh, and so-called Islamic State has just released another piece of vile agitprop promising bloody murder in Britain, my country of residence. And so on.

Yet, all of this seems strangely unreal to me, in the grip as I am — at least in unguarded moments — of a kind of apocalyptic paralysis. For obvious reasons 2015 was a stark reminder that climate change is almost certain to change the world as we know it over the course of the next generation. All the current problems are negligible in comparison to what’s on the horizon. COP21 arguably provided some cause for optimism, but it seems foolish fully to trust that we will be able to avert the cataclysm science tells us is coming to an extent that doesn’t profoundly upset life everywhere on Earth. Continue reading ‘The Week’

Happy New Year!


It’s been a slow year here at the Bunker. Don’t know that 2016 won’t be the same, but I’ll be sure to let y’all know when and if things kick up again. Thanks for stopping by and all best to you and yours.

Merry Christmas

Giorgione, The Adoration of the Kings, 1506-7, London, National Gallery

Risbjerg og Pandolfo i Information


Der er gået længe siden sidst, og lang tid siden jeg skrev anmeldelsen, men nu er jeg tilbage i Informations spalter med en vurdering af Terkel Risbjerg og Anne-Caroline Pandolfos double feature fra tidligere i år, Mina — mit liv som kat og Niels Lyhne-parafrasen Skarabæernes konge. Den kan læses (bag avisens paywall) her.

Here I stand

Drawn and Quarterly 25 Years!

Front cover image and design by Tom Gauld


Over at The Comics Journal I’ve just published a review of seminal comics publisher Drawn and Quarterly’s massive 25th-anniversary book, which is actually more of a short essay on the significance and particular qualities of the publisher. Go read it here.

L’Shana Tova

Fremtidens Araber i Information


I ugens bogtillæg til dagbladet Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af første bind af Riad Sattoufs Fremtidens Araber, udgivet på dansk af Cobolt. Det er i et vist omfang samme tekst, men kortere og på dansk, som den jeg for nogle uger siden skrev til The Comics Journal om Sattouf og hans bestseller.

Hype: The Rotland Inquiry


Ryan Standfest, publisher at the small-press (dark) humor operation Rotland Press, recently put out the first issue of the Rotland Inquiry, which focuses on Charlie Hebdo, the Paris murders and their aftermath. Standfest has assembled an impressive range of cartoonists, critics and historians who present a variety of viewpoints and thoughts and images on the subject.

The roll call sounds: Stéphane Blanquet, Hugleikur Dagsson, D.B. Dowd, Mort Gerberg, Jeet Heer, Danny Hellman, David Hughes, Paul Krassner, Mark McKinney, Tony Millionaire, Leigh Phillips, Martin Rowson, Johnny Sampson, Mahendra Singh, Art Spiegelman, and um, me. I’m in there with an edited and slightly updated version of one of the pieces I wrote for The Comics Journal back in January.

I’m proud to be in the publication and encourage you to seek it out. It’s well worth it, whatever you think of my contribution.

More on the publication and Rotland Press from contributor D. B. Dowd here and here.

Sattouf’s Arabe du futur at TCJ


Over at The Comics Journal, the latest installment of my all-too-infrequent comics on European comics features an introduction to Riad Sattouf and a short review of the first two volumes of his current bestseller L’Arabe du futur. Both volumes have sold well over 200.000 copies in France and translations are appearing all over the place. Controversial, frank, brilliantly executed, problematic. Well worth your attention. Go, read.

Lille Kvast i Information


Denne uge bringer Information Bøger min anmeldelse af Pierre Bailly og Céline Fraiponts første fire bind af den dejlige børneserie Lille Kvast, der er udgivet i Danmark af Forlaget Forlæns. Læs den her.

Forlaget Damgaard i Information


I denne uges bogtillæg anmelder jeg en håndfuld udgivelser fra det lille forlag Damgaard og gør mig i den forbindelse nogle tanker om små con amore-foretagenders betydning for tegneserier i Danmark. De anmeldte skabere er John Porcellino, Henri Gylander og Ethan Rilly. Læs anmeldelsen her. (hvis du kan komme forbi den nyinstallerede paywall…)

The Week


It’s been forever since I did one of these. Such is the half dormant life of this blog. But anyway, the itch is still occasionally there so here we go.

The above video was made a few months ago to coincide with the opening of the Sansovino Frames exhibition at the National Gallery. We had just successfully acquired the beautiful Venetian (non-Sansovino) frame which now adorns Titian’s Allegory of Prudence, partly through crowdfunding, and which features in the clip. I think it encapsulates well some of the very real pleasures of working with great artworks: the fact that details count; the kind of holistic thinking the works demand of you when you plan their display; and not least the passion and expertise that they demand. I appear for a brief moment and contribute nothing, but do watch the video for the insight it gives into our framing department and the great work Peter Schade and his staff do there.

OK, here are some links:

  • London Art Week. I haven’t yet really done the rounds, but I did have a chance to look at this drawing attributed to Sebastiano del Piombo. I’m unsure about the attribution, but it doesn’t make it any less beautiful. And while we’re talking Sebastiano, there’s what I do believe is bona fide painting by him in Christie’s day sale.
  • Mikkel Sommer. A rising star on the Danish comics scene. He hasn’t yet delivered a work really delivering on his great talent, but if he keeps dropping gems like this brilliant GIF he’ll keep at least this reader watching him.
  • Roskilde 2015. No, I’m not there this year, sadly, but if you read Danish, you can follow the coverage of the hip hop at the festival by my homies at Rapspot here. Prominent in the line-up was El-P and Killer Mike’s by now ubiquitous-in-hipsterdom-but-no-less-awesome-for-that project Run the Jewels. They surely killed it, if their performance last weekend at Glastonbury is anything to go by.