The week in review
The drive for new Caravaggios continues unabated, it seems, with the hard to believe recent attribution of about a 100 drawings and ten oil paintings from the Castello Sforza in Milan that once belonged to Caravaggio’s master Simone Peterzano. They were just published on the web by Art historians Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz and Adriana Conconi Fedrigolli as having been executed by the baroque master. Needless to say, this would be sensational of true — no drawings by Caravaggio are known.
However, Caravaggio is rivaled perhaps only by Leonardo among artists who attract frivolous claims of sensational discovery, which come at a clip of about one a year or so. This, however, is unusually aspirational. Although Caravaggio is described in the sources as an artist who didn’t draw, working exclusively “after nature,” he is likely to have drawn at least a little, but it is still hard to believe that so many of his youthful drawings should have been in the possession of his master and have been hiding in plain sight for the better part of a century.
As Stefano Boeri from the Milan Culture Center says in this clip, the collection has been known to scholars since the collection was acquired by the municipality in 1924. Although there have been speculation about certain individual pieces, no one before has given this large a section to the master.
I haven’t studied this collection, but merely from looking at the few drawings filmed in the clip and in the promotional video at the site launched in support of the claim, it strikes me as highly unlikely that even those are by the same hand and none of the eclectic selection shown looks remotely to be of the quality of the early paintings used for comparison.
I suppose every proposal deserves a hearing, but this looks aspirational to say the least.
Remembering KMG. Excellent short appreciation by Brandon Soderbergh of the recently deceased Above The Law MCs writing, delivery and role in the group.
“Le manga en France.” Xavier Guilbert delivers another of his exemplary comics market analyses. Must-read for anything with this particular interest.
“I Used to Love Her, But I Had to Flee Her: On Leaving New York.” A little too clever in its writing for its own good perhaps, but this essay by Cord Jefferson on living in New York is still pretty spot on about certain aspects of the experience.
Dream Hampton on Frank Ocean coming out. This has been linked everywhere, but on the off-chance that you haven’t seen it, it’s a good if somewhat overblown piece of writing on this potential landmark event in hip hop culture.
Obama in Martha's Vineyard on 18 August 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (used without permission, but hopefully fairly)
The week in review (kind of).
Haven’t done one of these in a while, and this is halfway through the week anyway, so it the timing is all wrong, but I have all these fine links that have been gnawing a hole in my drafts file for a while now that I figured I might as well share before we go into Angoulême mode here. Some are rather old and you might have seen them elsewhere, but if not here’s a chance to check them out.
The Obama memos. Following on from the State of the Union last night, one could do worse than reading this compelling examination of discussions had and choices made behind the scenes over the last three years in the White House. There are some revealing instances of Obama’s cynicism, as well as ample examples of his fetish for compromise, but also a very real sense of how difficult his job is. You could also do worse than supplementing it with Conor Friedersdorf’s sobering examination of the president’s transgressions of civil liberties at The Atlantic.
Ars Technica on internet piracy. Julian Sanchez examines and largely deconstructs the forcefully stated and strangely unquestioned arguments made in favor of fighting internet piracy by politicians and industry lobbyists — at the moment in favor of the highly dubious SOPA an PIPA bills (thanks Dirk!).
On Liu Xiaobo. This review at the NYRB of a recently translated collection of essays by the Chinese dissident and Nobel Prize-winner provides a compelling introduction to a clearly significant political thinker (now languishing in prison) and the country that fostered him.
Manga! Several excellent manga-related pieces have popped up online these past weeks. Yesterday jason Thompson examined smartly the decline in manga sales, in America as well as Japan. And Ryan Holmberg returned to his must-read but only intermittently updated column at The Comics Journal with a great essay on akahon manga, while the Hooded U republishes an excellent piece by Tom Gill on the great Tsuge Yoshiharu.
Finally — and this is a bit of an old link, but a must if you haven’t already checked it out — Joe Sacco with a new short piece of comics journalism, from Kushinagar in India.
The picks of the week from around the web.
Better late than never: the new Comics Journal is off to a strong start, with plenty of interesting material posted in its first weeks. My favorites have been the first instalment of Ryan Holmberg’s history of alternative comics in Japan, Jeet Heer’s notes on racism in comics, Ken Parille’s reading of a story by Moto Hagio (smartly contested by Noah Berlatsky at HU), and Patrick Rosenkrantz’ history of autiobiographical comics.
No one does the comics numbers like du9′s Xavier Guilbert. And his annual analysis of the French-language comics market for the year 2010, published in January — his most detailed yet — is now available in English.
I also found this piece on an alleged American-run wartime concentration camp in Chonquing intriguing. The writer, Xujun Eberlein, admirably attempts to untangle decades of Chinese propaganda to figure out what actually went on there and to what extent Americans were involved in massacres against Chinese communists carried out in the area.
Above: Youth Magazine (May 24, 1970), cover drawing by Chiba Tetsuya, design by Yokoo Tadanori. From Holmberg’s article, linked above.