Death in Venice

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Back from Roskilde, feeling elatedly exhausted as always. It was the wettest festival on record, which was quite an experience. I’ve never seen anything like Thursday. People were wading in mud halfway up their hips, and the 20 hours of relentless precipitation was prodigious. It was pandemonium. Fortunately music makes such problems moot (for much more, see the Rapspot coverage), but my name is still Mud.

Raphael sells to private collector for £18 Million

christies_raphael_sale.jpgThe Raphael portrait of Lorenzo de’Medici that I recently examined at Christie’s and wrote about here, has now been sold for £18 million to an anonymous ‘private European collector.’ Pity it did not end up in a public collection, but the combination of disputed authorship, bad state and high price probably dissuaded any institutions that might have been interested.

David Packwood has more on the picture’s attribution here, and on the sale here. Tom Flynn was present and took the photo used above.

On to Roskilde!

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It’s been a while ‘cos I’ve been busy. Still am, but I still wanted to check in here with some notes on this week’s musical happenings in Copenhagen and environs. I’m back in Denmark for a little while here, and started out my stay with a session featuring Beenie Man (pictured above) who, amongst other things, delivered a special, partly improvised but nevertheless felt, tribute to Natasja, narrating how he saw her over the last few days of her life, including her last show, last Saturday.

Natasja – In Memoriam

natasja_sunburst.jpgThis is so sad. I can’t really bring myself to write about anything else at the moment. It is, however, some solace that so many people have been showing their love these last days. And there are also some news about what happens now.

People interested in helping Natasja’s mother and family give her a nice funeral are encouraged to visit her MySpace page where further information can be found.

For those who read Danish, my obituary can be seen in a slightly different version over at RapSpot. Everyone is also encouraged to visit the RapSpot board where the community is paying respect and showing love. Also, read MC and hip hop journalist PTA’s reminiscences here, and be sure to read the best obituary written so far, by selector and journalist Ras Money, here. Danish daily Information has a good one too. Also, The Jamaica Observer has the news, with testimony from Natasja’s friend and fellow dancehall DJ Lady G.

Natasja 1974-2007

little_t.jpgToday brought incredibly sad news. Danish dancehall queen Natasja Saad has died in a car crash in Jamaica.

A fixture in Danish hip hop, reggae and dancehall since the late eighties, when she performed on stage for the first time, she had both an astonishing talent and true star quality. I first saw her on stage in 1989, opening for Ice-T and the Rhyme Syndicate at the now long gone, classic venue Saga in Copenhagen. Perky and energetic, she already had her tight ragga flow and distinctive rascally delivery down, totally outshining the older MC, J-Sun, whom she was sharing the stage with. In the following years she was ubiquitous on the Copenhagen hip hop scene, performing with Karen Mukupa (and, at the beginning also MC Emcee) as the group No Name Requested as well as delivering numerous guest shots at other people’s shows and recordings. Her tenacity, vigour and sheer talent on stage was impressive and though I didn’t always dig her music, she remains one of the artists from that period I respect the most.

Carlsen stays Carlsen

On Seriejournalen’s message board, Carlsen editor Carsten Søndergaard notes that the negotiations at Aschehoug/Egmont after their acquisition of Bonnier Forlagene have resulted in the publishing house Carlsen, previously owned by Bonnier, remains its own publisher, while Egmont Serieforlaget continues to function as is. Effectively that means the new media group has two distinct comics publishing houses. Probably the best solution all round.

We hope to have more on all this shortly.

Hype: Denmark Represents at MoCCA

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This coming weekend, June 23-24, will once again see the MoCCA ArtFest in the Puck Building in SoHo, New York. Always an event well worth attending, there will be extra reason to do so this year for people interested in Scandinavian comics. The Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish consulates have collaborated on a joint manifestation at the festival. The Danish part is organized by New York-based Danish cartoonist Henrik Rehr, who has invited a group of distinguished Danish cartoonists and publishers, all of whom will be at hand to draw, and talk about their work. Look for similar manifestations from the other participating countries – the Scandinavian contigent can be found at booths S13-17.

Raphael’s Portrait of Lorenzo de’Medici: A Case of Visual vs. Documentary Evidence

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The portrait of Lorenzo de’Medici, Duke of Urbino (1492-1519), coming up for sale at Christie’s on the 5th of July is an interesting case study in the perpetual problem in art history of reconciling visual and textual evidence. I have just visited Christie’s in London and examined the painting. It is obviously a severely damaged, extensively restored painting, but it is still quite beautiful. To me it looks like it was substantially painted by Raphael himself, but things are unfortunately not so easy.

Shrug Value

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Not wanting to feel left out, I’m adding my 2 cents on Damien Hirst’s new skull. It is a platinum cast of a human skull, with real teeth, studded with 8.601 diamonds, the forehead set with a 50-karat stone. At a reported production cost of £8-10 million and a sales price around £50 million, the press release called it the “most expensive work of contemporary art ever created” (whatever that means), and that’s kind of the point.