Archive for the 'pictorial arts' Category

The Compass and the Mirror in Rome!


Last week I had the pleasure of attending the book presentation at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome of The Compass and the Mirror – Sebastiano del Piombo and Michelangelo that I have edited and contributed to. Based on research conducted and insights gained during the 2017 exhibition Michelangelo & Sebastiano that I organised at the National Gallery, the book presents a wide variety of new research on the two artists and the context of their collaboration. It is published by Brepols and you can read more here.

It was a real privilege to be able to organise a book presentation of this sort and to hear the critiques of my esteemed colleagues Professor Alessandro Zuccari of the Sapienze University of Rome and Cecilia Frosinini, faculty member at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence. Both had pointed and important remarks that I will take forward in future work. You can see the entire presentation above, but note that the two respondents speak in Italian and only I, out of necessity, respond in English at the end.

Radio Rackham: billeder skabt af kunstig intelligens


Vi er på Radioen med på beatet og har inviteret journalist, podcaster og billedteoretiker Torben Sangild i studiet til en snak om et af sommerens hotte emner, den potentielt paradigmenskiftende opståen af billeder skabt af kunstig intelligens, først og fremmest tjenesterne DALL-E 3 og Midjourney. Vi får snakket praktik, etik og fremtiden. Lyt og læs mere på Nummer9.

Leonardo, Giorgione, Titian

Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of a woman ("La belle ferronière"), Paris, Louvre


The latest volume of the excellent journal Artibus et Historiae includes an extended article by yours truly on Leonardo da Vinci’s signficance for the art of Giorgione and Titian. And much-debated, but still vaguely defined topic in connection with Giorgione and, by contrast, little-discussed in relation to Titian, I think Leonardo’s art is a particularly rich key to understanding aspects of both artist’s creativity.

The article has a rather long and slightly tedious history. It started life as a paper given at a conference on the significance of Florentine art in other parts of Italy held in Lausanne in 2012, organised by my friend Chris Fischer and professor of art history in that city Nicholas Bock. It was originally written out to be published in a proceedings that never happened and then say in my virtual desk drawer for years, out of sight, but never entirely out of mind, as I updated it with new literature and thoughts occasionally as it came to me. The lockdown period came and seemed like an oppotune moment to extract it, dust it off and submit it.

So, it is not exactly my scholarship of ten years ago preserved in amber, but something like that. Not everything in it reflects my thinking today, but I found it sufficiently worthwhile as is not to attempt a thorough rewrite. It was, from the begnning, much influenced by my teacher at Columbia University 2002-4, David Rosand, who sadly passed away in 2014. It is therefore dedicated to his memory.

Find it in Artibus no. 84 (2021), pp. 115-47.

Giorgione, Portrait of a old woman ("La vecchia"), Venice, Accademia

Efter København i Informeren


I dagens udgave af Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af Christian Skovgaards overrumplende tegneserie Efter København, udgivet for nylig af forlaget Forlæns. Hermed et uddrag af anmeldelsen:

…Skovgaards fejende flotte arkitekturvandring gennem den faldne by, fra Vestervold ind over Dronning Louises Bro til Nørreport, Rådhuspladsen og Slotsholmen, efterfulgt af Christianshavn, Islands Brygge og til sidst DR-byen og Ørestad. Han er uddannet grafiker og billedfortæller, men har i mange år arbejdet med arkitektur, blandt andet som modelbygger. Denne baggrund fremstår klart af de skarpt stiliserede gengivelser af byens topografi, gennem hvilke diagonale snit opdeler før og efter katastrofen.

Billederne er tegnet som vektorgrafik og trykt i to pantonefarver, henholdsvis blågrøn og rød samt, når de blandes, en sortviolet tredjefarve. At tegne sådan er afsindigt arbejdskrævende, hvilket forklarer, at bogen har været over ti år undervejs, men det retlinede resultat forløser på bevægende vis Skovgaards kærlighedserklæring til det byggede miljø generelt og København specifikt.

Læs hele anmeldelsen her hvis abo, og lyt til det seneste afsnit af Radio Rackham, om vores sommerlæsning, i hvilket vi også diskuterer bogen.

On the Drawings of Lorenzo Lotto

Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of a man, probably 1540s, black chalk, 250 x 186 mm. Florence, Gallerie degli Uffizi


As you may remember I was involved in organising an exhibition on the portraits of renaissance artist Lorenzo Lotto back in 2018-19 with my colleagues Miguel Falomír and Enrico Maria Dal Pozzolo. It was shown at the Museo del Prado in Madrid and the National Gallery in London. An international conference was held at the Prado in 2018 and I presented there a paper on Lotto’s drawings. It has now been published by the Prado as part of the conference proceedings.

I’m thrilled to see it in print, even if I’m even less certain of the observations I make in it than I was when I was writing it. Very few sheets from Lotto’s hand survive, even if he must have been a prolific draughtsman — and clearly was a great one — so it is extremely hard to establish a reliable corpus of drawings securely attributable to him. Uncertainty has been a constant in scholarship on the subject and my article is no exception. Still, I hope it will prove useful, if nothing else as a summary of where we are on the subject, and also as a case study in the challenges and usefulness of connoisseurship. Do check it out.

Raphael Portraits at the National

Baldassare Castiglione, 1519


I gave a Facebook Live tour of the last room of the Raphael exhibition at the National Gallery the other night, devoted to the artist’s late portraits. You can see it here. You’re welcome!

Aretino in Print Quarterly


In the latest issue of Print Quarterly, vol. 39, no. 1, I review three publications — an exhibition catalogue from the Uffizi and two scholarly anthologies — around the Venetian writer, polemicist and literary activist Pietro Aretino (1492-1556), with a specific view to their treatment of Aretino’s relationship with prints and printmaking.

Aretino was involved in printmaking throughout his career, employing it as a way of self-promotion but also encouraging creative engagement in the medium on the part of his friends, not least Titian. In the review, I reattribute the design of an engraved portrait of Aretino of around 1534 by Jacopo Caraglio, and a woodcut frontispiece based on the same model, to Titian. Consult the issue at your local art library!

Publications reviewed: Anne Bisceglia, Matteo Ceriana and Paolo Procaccioli, eds., Pietro Aretino a l’arte nel Rinascimento, exh. cat. Florence, Uffizi, Florence 2019; Anne Bisceglia, Matteo Ceriana and Paolo Procaccioli, eds., “Pietro Pictore Aretino”: Una parola complice per l’arte del Rinascimento, Venice 2019; and Anne Bisceglia, Matteo Ceriana and Paolo Procaccioli, eds., Inchiostro per colore: arte e artisti in Pietro Aretino, Rome 2019.

Raphael at the National Gallery


It is here! After six years of planning: the great Raphael exhibition that I’ve co-curated with Tom Henry and David Ekserdjian has opened at the National Gallery in London. It presents a comprehensive overview of Raphael’s entire career and charts his creativity across media and art forms, beyond drawing and painting to architecture and to design for tapestry, print, sculpture and the applied arts, as well as his activities as an archaeologist and art theorist. Even his essays in poetry are included. Need I say that the loans we have received from across Europe and the United States are incredible?

Originally planned for 2020, to mark the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death on 6 April, Good Friday 1520, it was postponed due to the pandemic. I’m relieved that it is finally happening. Raphael feels so urgent today, not least after two years of pandemic and the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and with the sometimes crushing awareness of the challenges posed by climate change and environmental destruction. Raphael’s art and whole ethos is the opposite of that — a passionate assertion of human dignity, community and civilisation. Art doesn’t change the world, of course, but it still reflects it.

Do go, often and repeatedly, if you can. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Book here.

The Sistine Chapel In Our Time


I participated in the venerable In Our Time with Melwyn Bragg in an episode on the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo, alongside Catherine Fletcher from Manchester Metropolitan University and Sarah Vowles of the British Museum. It was a lot of fun and, I hope, an informative discussion. The brodcast was yesterday, but you can download the extended podcast version via BBC Sounds and, eventually, on other podcast platforms.

New Book out!


I have a new book out! Several years in the making, The Compass and the Mirror — Sebastiano del Piombo and Michelangelo is an anthology of scholary articles on the two great artists and their collaboration and relationship between 1511 and 1547. Inspired by the exhibition Michelangelo & Sebastiano that I curated at the National Gallery in 2017, it gathers a to my mind stellar group of scholars, conservators and scientists in what I hope will be a standard reference volume for anyone researching the field in the years to come. Published by Brepols, you can find more information, including how to order, on their website. Here is the table of contents: Continue reading ‘New Book out!’

Radio Rackham: Frækhedens evangelium


I denne episode af Radio Rackham snakker Frederik, Thomas og jeg med Dennis Meyhoff Brink om religionssatirens europæiske historie. Dennis forsvarede sin PhD om emnet ved IKK på Københavns Universitet i efteråret men har længe markeret sig som uhyre velartikuleret specialist på området. Som det naturligt følger med seriøst historisk arbejde, beriger hans indsigter forståelsen af vor tids debatter om religionskritik, ytringsfrihed, Muhammedtegninger, cancel culture og meget andet. Lyt og læs mere på Nummer9.

Kurt Westergaard at The Comics Journal


Back in July when Kurt Westergaard — the Danish cartoonist behind the most infamous and consequential satirical cartoon in history, the so-called Bomb in the Turban — died, I wrote an obituary and submitted it to The Comics Journal, the great magazine on comics and cartoon art to which I’ve contributed on/off over the years. For various reasons, it appears there only now, but I’m very happy to see it in publication and encourage you to read it! Oh, and if you understand Danish, to listen to the episode of Radio Rackham that we recorded on Westergaard and the Muhammad cartoons back then. It’s good!

Cartoon by Thomas Thorhauge, originally published in Weekendavisen 22 July 2021.

Radio Rackham: Piranesi


Vi afslutter året på Radio Rackham med et afsnit om Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) i anledning af den store udstilling, der pt. kan ses på Statens Museum for Kunst (når der ikke, som lige nu, er corona-lukket). Det er en fornøjelse på den måde at udvide feltet i podcastet til at omfatte anden kunst og andre kulturfænomener end dem, der stringent kan kaldes tegneserier. Det har altid været vores ambition på Rackham at se kunstformen i en større sammenhæng.

Lyt her og læs mere på Nummer9.

On Vasari’s Allegory of Patience

In The National Gallery’s ongoing offering of online ten-minute talks, I’m chipping in with 6 and half minutes on Giorgio Vasari’s great Allegory of Patience, which we have on loan from The Kletsch Collection. Enjoy!

See more ten-minute talks and other video content from the Gallery here.

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: