Titian — The Last Act

The late work of Titian continues to fascinate. Inner effulgence emerging through broken, smouldering facture. A expressively spiritual presence. These are some of the qualities of the best, late works in paint by the master. Unprecedented in its embrace of colour as clay, of the gesture as art, and utterly devoid of ancillary concerns, yet fully continuous with the rest of his oeuvre, it appears the result of insights attained through a long life of painting as inquiry. A quintessential manifestation of the romantic notion of an Altersstil as the last testament of the singular artistic genius.

The latest affirmation of the late work’s enduring appeal are two ambitious and grandly conceived exhibitions, concentrating on the last twenty years or so of Titian’s career. Without a doubt the most assertive and incontrovertible is “Der Späte Tizian und die Sinnlichkeit der Malerei” (“Late Titian and the Sensuality of Painting,” reviewed here) in Vienna, which opened last week and collects the majority of his supreme late masterpieces under one roof. (More on that once I get to see it) The other is the odder, more idiosyncratic, but nevertheless greatly interesting show “Tiziano — L’Ultimo atto” (“Titian — The Last Act”) in the small town of Belluno in the foothills of the Dolomites, with an outreach to Titian’s hometown of Pieve di Cadore, further on up.

Cartoon Crisis Remembered in Danish Election

Yesterday, Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen called early election for Nov. 13. Most major parties expected this move, and have been preparing their campaigns since the beginning of summer. Even though Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti) and its leader Pia Kjærsgaard (above) belong on the far right wing, it’s a bit of a surprise that the party launches its campaign with a strong reference to the Cartoon Crisis. On the poster above, the text states: Freedom of Speech is Danish, Censorship is not“.

The drawing is by the party’s graphic designer (it’s not one of Jyllands-Posten‘s original cartoons), and is based on a drawing depicting the Prophet Mohammed in Alexander Ross’s book A View of all the Religions in the World (1683). According to Nyhedsavisen, Kassem Ahmed, a spokesperson for the Danish Islamic Society, has stated that the Society will “ignore the provocation, and prefer dialogue with those who subscribe to freedom of speech in a more decent and respectful manner“.

Let’s see what happens this time..

Photo montage by Avisen.dk.

Hype: The Dark Knight Reflects

I morgen, onsdag 24 oktober kl. 12.15, holder Ph. D.-stipendiat på Institut for Filosofi og Idéhistorie, Aarhus universitet, Carsten Fogh Nielsen, forelæsningen “The Dark Knight Reflects – om Batman, filosofi og populærkultur” på Aarhus Universitet, Nobelparken, bygning 1461, lokale 226. Manchet følger:

Who Drew the Original Spider-Man? The Debate

The week before last, I posted a link to Morten Søndergård’s article on the first Spider-Man stories and Jack Kirby’s possible involvement in them on the Comics Journal messageboard. This sparked an interesting debate about the validity of Morten’s hypothesis, involving some of the foremost specialists on Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby and early Marvel. I figured I would save the best of it for posterity here.

The Pendulum Swings

Lo, the pendulum swings. Things have happened so quickly in comics these last years that we are already seeing a backlash against the type of comics that broke the century-old mould and expanded the field of comics as expression and art, until recently almost universally embraced amongst ‘progressive’ comics cognoscenti. There is a new establishment in comics — graphic novels, artcomics, verité dessinée, call it what you want — and, as it should be, a conglomeration of people all set to tear it down, though not always for the same reason or with the same agenda, has emerged. At the same time, myriad new developments are taking the medium in new and different directions that elicit critical responses even before the ink is dry. This is only natural — the medium is in a state of evolutionary flux, and the battle of redefinition that these conflicting discourses are evincing is only to be expected.

The latest flareup of this state of heightened tension in international comics culture was a kerfuffle this weekend and yesterday over a somewhat ill-advised piece by Heidi MacDonald on the high-profile, Chris Ware (co-)edited comics anthology The Best Comics 2007 from mainstream publisher Houghton Mifflin (follow-up here). Her post called a host of cheerleaders from out the woodwork, but also elicited vociferous criticism, making you simultaneously apprehend and anticipate the Fire Next Time.

Press Release: Bonnier Comics Established in Denmark

Following Egmont’s aquisition of Bonnier’s book publishing division (covered by the Metabunker here), big decisions have been made – here’s a fresh statement from Egmont/Bonnier:

“In connection with the sale of Bonnier Books’ Danish publishing company Bonnier Forlagene to Egmont, the comics publication unit of the children’s publisher Carlsen will transfer to Semic International, owned by Bonnier. During their review of the sale, the competition authorities of the European Commission assessed that the group will achieve an over-dominant position on the Danish comics market as both Egmont Serieforlaget and Carlsen operate significant activities in this publishing sector. However, Carlsen’s current publications in the comics area will remain under the auspices of Bonnier. A Danish comics company, Bonnier Comics A/S, will be set up under the general management of Rickard Ekström and Måns Gahrton from the Swedish publishing house Semic International.