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Cy Twombly, RIPMajor American artist has died


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#1 leonid17

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 09:14 AM

Cy Twombly has died at age 83:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...t-arts-14038987

Edited by dirac, 06 July 2011 - 10:43 AM.
Edited to add an introductory line to the bare link


#2 Ray

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 10:06 AM

From the obit in the Guardian:

"He forged a distinctive, at times thrilling, brand from references to the high culture of the past, only rarely referring to contemporary events or issues. Yet, despite this apparent remoteness from the present, he achieved early success by offering a clever alternative to abstract expressionism and managed to keep going long enough to come back into fashion. It is questionable whether such an esoteric artist would have so enduring a career if he started today."

#3 dirac

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 10:40 AM

Thanks for posting the news, leonid. An era draws to a close. Another Guardian piece:

The curator Nicholas Cullinan has had the bold and lovely idea of interspersing paintings, drawings and sculptures by Cy Twombly with paintings and drawings by Nicolas Poussin, in a compact exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Arcadian Painters, he bills the pairing, his working premise being that the veteran American artist (who died on 5 July 2011) shares with the 17th-century Frenchman a devotion to classical antiquity. Whether or not you feel that such an affinity comes through visually, the experiment in juxtaposition gives you much to reflect on. Above all, it refreshes your eyes. We expect Poussins to inhabit a zone of studious murmuring and fusty hauteur.



#4 kfw

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 11:14 AM

The NY Times obit mentions a Kirk Varnedoe essay on Twombly. I love the title," Your Kid Could Not Do This, and Other Reflections on Cy Twombly.

#5 Quiggin

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 11:27 AM

Twombly has been paired with Poussin well before now. Writers are always attracted to his work because at times it's almost like writing – but they try to make him out to be more lyrical than he was in his best early work. It was quite aggressive and slashing – he used a nail to stratch on the plates of his prints. Graffiti were then often scratched on walls in obscure, out of the way places. Twombly and Rauchenberg had gone to Black Mountain College in the early fifties, a very intense experience for everyone.

Richard Francis, introductiion to the catalogue for the Mayor Gallery in London in 1982:

Like the French painter, Nicholas Poussin, with whom he is often compared, Cy Twombly draws very deeply upon classical antiquity and Rome, the city in which he lives. He exiled himself in 1957 and has now lived there almost half his lifetime. The two artists share a passion for mythology and the romance of the classical world joined in their work perhaps by restraint in the palette and a refusal to accept felicitous line or form as an accomplished attribute... Where Poussin is dry and difficult, Twombly offers us a kind of what Roland Barthes calls “indolence,” a sort of no-space in the non-color of his ground. This quietude, this lack of inflection, has been allied to many intellectual causes – Zen, Mallarme’s poetics, the poetry of Ezra Pound and Charles Olson and the working away from abstract expressionism and surrealism by Twombly and his peers.


Brice Marden, in conversation with Kurt Varnedoe 1994:

Yes, I think it was really great he left town ... Cy is a second generation Abstract Expressionist and I really see Rauschenberg, Johns and Twombly as this triumvirate. They all deal with this Abstract Expressionist problem separately and quite distinctly. But he reintroduces subject matter or makes it so you can think about subject matter again. There is this poetic sense, this evocation ...

Moving away from New York painting which was so structured and so Cubist-oriented, he really gets into something else ...


The only thing is that at least during the seventies, he didn't really leave town. He kept coming back to studios on the Bowery or Canal Street and began painting these interesting grim, gray paintings of geometric figures, boxes – influenced by Minimalism, steely gray New York light and the general austerities of that time.

#6 leonid17

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 11:33 AM

Cy Twombly has died at age 83:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...t-arts-14038987


Thank you Alison.

#7 dirac

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 12:15 PM

Happy to assist, leonid. :)

Thank you, Quiggin, I was hoping you would post. I myself know little about Twombly beyond some generalities.

#8 bart

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 01:39 PM

Here's the Louvre ceiling. (You can enlarge the photo.) It looks more brilliant in the photo than in real life, at least as lighted in the Louvre.

I wish I had seen the exhibit photographed in the bbc link.

http://www.louvre.fr...879&bmLocale=en

Sorry to say, but Richard Francis' comments sound like an extreme example of Critic-Speak to me. By overstating what is actually there on Twombly's canvasses, comments like these have the paradoxical effect of diminishing them.

By the way, I agree entirely with the implications of the statement, linked by kfw: "Your Kid could NOT do This." My quibbling, in no way intended to take away from Twombly's achievement, may have to what precisely "This" involves.

#9 Quiggin

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 04:08 PM

Actually Francis's statement was one of the least art-speak ones I could find - Roland Barthes wrote two famous essays about Twombly that are much more difficult. One ends:

[These] are paintings that are excited, possessive and dogmatic; they impose their products and attribute them the tyranny of a concept or the violence of avidity. TW's art – and here one finds its morality as well as its extreme historical singularity – desires to take possession of nothing at all. It hovers, floats and drifts between desire, which is the force that subtly animated the artists's hand, and the polish of politeness, which is the discrete dismissal of every desire to capture or possess.


And I tried to balance that with the words of Brice Marden, who is also a fine painter. Even Varnedoe's writing takes wings when he writes about Twombly.

What I was concerned with is the lush, overly lyrical late work would become what is identified with him, rather than the gritty groundbreaking work of the fifties or the bleak seventies pieces - the stuff that stung a bit to look at - that you had to go back to again and again to figure out what was going on.

The hellishness of Black Mountain, working away from abstract expressionism were very important.

And then of course Warhol & the Pop artists came on the scene with a much simpler, faux-naive ending to the abstract expressionist era – and Rauchenberg and Twombly were somewhat sidelined.

#10 bart

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 04:37 PM

Quiggin, you make me want to see those earlier works. Especially the drawings (maybe because I'm still brooding on the Poussin connection).

Your reference to "stuff that stung a bit to look at" made me think: A career that encompasses that AND those gloriously colored pieces illustrated in the bbc article is something to be in awe of. I wish I had looked more carefully when I saw some of Twombly's work at the MACRO a while ago.

#11 kfw

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 05:54 PM

Quiggin, you make me want to see those earlier works. Especially the drawings (maybe because I'm still brooding on the Poussin connection).

Your reference to "stuff that stung a bit to look at" made me think: A career that encompasses that AND those gloriously colored pieces illustrated in the bbc article is something to be in awe of. I wish I had looked more carefully when I saw some of Twombly's work at the MACRO a while ago.

You can see quite a few reproductions here. Thanks for your insights, Quiggin.

#12 Quiggin

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 10:47 PM

Roberta Smith on Twombly. I always enjoy reading her art reviews – she really knows the gallery scene and is unashamed of liking old fashioned painterly painting.

Mr. Twombly even maintained continuities where Abstract Expressionism was concerned. Arguably the crux of his achievement was not so much to overturn the style as to subvert it from within. Although the Abstract Expressionists liked to believe, in the words of Barnett Newman, that “we are making it out of ourselves,” Mr. Twombly in some ways beat them at their own game.


An Artist of Selective Abandon

#13 dirac

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 10:56 AM

Nice article, Quiggin, thank you.

His ultimate subject was nothing less than the human longing to communicate to make meaning that others could apprehend and expand. It is an ancient loop, but in nearly everything he did Mr. Twombly exposed its wiring with a new clarity and exultant intensity.




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