Love Multiplied

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Currently on display at the art dealer Pietro Scarpa in Venice, there’s a reclining nude by the Venetian painter Giacomo ‘Palma’ Vecchio (c. 1480-1528), which is worth a second look for anyone interested in the practice of replication in the Italian Renaissance workshop. It repeats with slight variations the figure of Venus in a canvas in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Both pictures are datable to the 1520s, with the latter falling late, left as it was unfinished in the master’s studio at his death.

Heavy on the Castanets

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Michael Chabon frustrates me. He’s obviously talented, smart and knows how to tell a good story in the old school way. Even if he suffers from the classic problem of providing his stories with endings as memorable as what went before. (I remember a lot of cool things about Kavalier and Clay, but how did it end, again?). What I have a problem with, however, are certain mannerisms in his fluid, elegant language that have always been there, but which one hoped would dissipate, rather than consolidate themselves, with experience.

Defending the Herd

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As so many before me, I recently took umbrage at some of Domingos Isabelinho’s rather categorical views on comics, as expressed on his new blog The Crib Sheet. This time it was a curt dismissal of the majority of Hugo Pratt’s work as being superficial and hollow that got me out of my chair. For the record, here’s my short, rather extemporal take on what makes the best Corto Maltese stories great, formulated in response to his assertion that Corto is an unknowable, romantic stereotype, a ‘sailor who doesn’t sail’:

Corto is not meant to be a realistic character — he’s an engine for our imagination. Pratt’s genius in those stories, and I mean right up to the very end — or at least until the penultimate Corto book, Elvetiche (the last, MU, is coasting a bit) — is to engage our taste for adventure in unexpected, almost dreamlike ways.

Picks of the Week

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The picks of the week from around the web.

Just returned from Venice; pardon the lateness…

  • The Little World of Harvey Kurtzman. A new blog showcasing the amazing work of Harvey Kurtzman, apparently run by his estate. So far, a healthy selection of material from his classic humour magazines, Humbug and Help! are up. Not to be missed. (Thanks, Tom).
  • Shephard Fairy for Obama. Short video feature on the independent graphic artist behind those spectacular Obama posters, stickers and other promotional material that has become the primary graphic ID of the campaign.
  • The Archive. Short documentary on Paul Mawhinny, the owner of the world’s biggest record collection. Fascinating, if a bit sappy. But really, if you’re a vinyl enthusiast you will want to check for this. (Thanks, Lars).
  • Klodsen Kommer

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    De fleste københavnere, og sikkert også de fleste danskere, har nok allerede hørt om ‘Store Roberts’ kommende entré i Københavns havn, så jeg vil undlade at komme ind på de triste detaljer her og blot eklære mig enig med de efterhånden mange stemmer, der synes at det er en meget dårlig idé, og i øvrigt udtryk for eklatant mangel på dømmekraft fra Overborgmesteren og borgerrepræsentationens side, at dette længe syltede projektet igen er blevet taget op.

    Man kan selvfølgelig sige, at det ville være et ganske repræsentativt monument over den talentløshed med hvilken størstedelen af Københavns havn er blevet udviklet over de sidste 10-15 år, men det er næppe et argument i klodsens favør. Ikke alene vil den være fatalt ude af skala i forhold til sine omgivelser på det sted — den lader også til at være det med sig selv.

    Walls — Bassano

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    I was in Bassano del Grappa today. A beautiful small Medieval/Renaissance town scenically situated in the foothills of the Dolemites, it’s well worth a visit. Palladio’s famous pontoon bridge is elegant, almost timeless in its grace, and the collection at the city museum of pictures by the town’s greatest artist son Jacopo del Ponte, aka. Jacopo Bassano, is both grand and moving. His best work is earthy and rustic, yet possessed of a luminous spirituality that transcends the profane.

    Hype: Super16/Black Heart


    If you’re in Copenhagen and looking to do something on Thursday, go to the opening of this year’s crop of films by the Super16 group of independent filmmakers. It’s at the Dagmar Theatre and runs from noon till midnight.

    The usual full disclosure: the director of one of the films — Black Heart — Ada Bligaard Søby, is a friend of mine. But that doesn’t prevent her from being incredibly talented. Really, go see for yourself. I’ve just watched Black Heart (produced by Morten Kjelms Juhl), and it’s a both ominous and touching piece of documentary reconstruction. It’s hampered somewhat by it’s use heavy handed allegory, but it never becomes a real problem — this is acutely poetic filmmaking in the tradition of the French New Wave. Don’t take my word for it — go see for yourselves!

    Picks of the Week (American Politics is Weeeeird)

    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Al Smith Dinner 2008 (above). It took me a while to believe this was recent, and for real. But it was. McCain is actually funny!! Obama tries. And the atmosphere is congenial. A weird moment in the exciting — and on the Republicans’ part — farcical presidential campaign. Oh, and Obama mentions Jor-El, so there’s your comics link for the week!
  • Other hilarious, related moments from the past few weeks: The Daily Show on casting Obama as a terrorist’s pal, Chris Rock/Bill Maher on the first debate, and Jack Cafferty on the almost surreal Katie Couric interview with Sarah Palin.
  • And then, of course, there’s this. Which just boggles the mind. Not to mention this, which is your hip hop link for the week.
  • These have been your picks of the week. I’m sorry 🙂

  • Oh, wait a minute, there’s also this.