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.

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

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.