SMK Art Journal 2006
"The Canon of Danish Art 2006 and "Art for Art's Sake""
Is art free or political? The question presented itself in the wake of the publication of the Danish Cultural Canon in 2005. The problem is not new and the article pursues the political implications of the concept of ‘l’art pour l’art’ through history and also in relation to the works in the pictorial canon. It starts when the concept was invented by liberal free thinkers around the year 1800, via Nazism and to the 21st century when it was employed by cultural leftists and the Minister of Culture. The desire to have a cultural canon is also analysed as an expression of a general need for regimentation and as being imbued with a hysterical overdeterminisation where opposing concepts like politics, for example, are put together with autonomous art, and the exclusion of what is different is combined with democratic virtues. The conclusion is that canons are not created to pay homage to the sovereignty of the individual but to demonstrate how much authority and freedom leaders and specially appointed people can allow themselves to practise on behalf of the nation. Download and read the article (pdf 547 KB )
Hanne Kolind Poulsen
"Branding King Frederik II: On Melchior Lorck’s engraved portrait of Frederik II"
Melchior Lorck’s engraved portrait of King Frederik II of Denmark, dated 1582, is carried out with a really amazing sharpness and precision employed to make the expression schematic and depersonalized, almost petrified. What is the meaning of this anti-realistic style? In the light of Luther’s new thoughts on pictures which particularly insisted on the anti-realistic sign-character of the picture as a defence against idolatory, the argument is that Lorck’s portrait had a Lutheran connotation and shall be read as Lorck’s – and Frederik II’s – visual strategy to brand the king as a true Lutheran monarch. Frederik’s interest in this branding was rooted in his conflict with the Elector of Saxony, who rebuked him for his support of Philipism in Denmark in contrast to the new Lutheran orthodoxy, which Saxony promoted. Download and read the article (pdf 1,3 MB)
"Messenger Angels - from quiet body language to a dynamic concentration of emotions Pieter Lastman and Rembrandt"
For a short period of time, Rembrandt was a pupil of Pieter Lastman the Elder, one of the leading history painters of the 17th century. The relationship between the two painters of different generations is a good starting point for being able to give a characteristic of what is special about Dutch history painting. In her article, the German art historian Martina Sitt investigates how Rembrandt and Lastman work up and adapt the same motifs, and how the artists – Lastman in particular – developed new ways of depicting body language and gesture to be able to create a convincing history painting. Through the narrative strength of his depiction of figures, Lastman attempted to develop a body language which could be used to visualise cognition and understanding. Download and read the article (pdf 657 KB)
"The Bajocco in Copenhagen, by Juel, Fragonard, Vincent or Abildgaard?"
At an exhibition in Rome in 1900, the painting of Bajocco the Roman dwarf was presented without any reservations as a work by the French artist Vincent (1746-1816). The beggar dwarf Francesco Ravai (Bajocco means ‘small change’) was a well-known figure in and around the Caffé del Greco in Rome in the 1770s and 1780s. At one time he was a favourite model for artists from all over Europe. The painting belongs to the National Gallery of Denmark and in Denmark it is attributed to Jens Juel (1745-1802). However, Bajocco is by no means typical of Juel, and the Danish artist N. A. Abildgaard (1743-1809), who was contemporary with Juel and presumably the first owner of the picture, has been mooted as the real artist. In this article, Patrick Kragelund goes systematically through the arguments for repudiating Juel as the artist and can convincingly rebut the repudiations. Provenance, documentation and tradition still point unanimously to Jens Juel. Download and read the article (pdf 320 KB)
Kasper Monrad, Mikkel Scharff og Jørgen Wadum
"Hidden Drawings from the Danish Golden Age. Drawing and underdrawing in Danish Golden Age views from Italy"
In this article, art historian Kasper Monrad and conservators Mikkel Scharff and Jørgen Wadum focus on a hitherto unresearched area of Danish Golden Age painting. Behind the layers of paint on some of the best known works of that period lies an extremely important source of knowledge of the artists’ working methods. By using modern technology – infra-red photography – it is possible to see the drawings which the artists made on the grounding before they started painting (now known as underdrawing). These drawings are a link between the first drawings on paper and the paintings themselves, and in many cases they reveal some of the painters’ artistic deliberations during the execution of the work. Selected examples demonstrate how C. W. Eckersberg and his pupils Christen Købke and Constantin Hansen used underdrawing in their paintings which were carried out in Italy. Download and read the article (pdf 626 KB)
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