Friday, August 21, 2009

Cy Twombley

I have a weak spot for painted drawings (or drawn paintings) and no one does this contemporary form better than Cy Twombley. I was therefore very happy to stumble upon a room of his work at the Philadelphia Museum recently - a real room, like a bedroom in a house, where you leave the rest of the place behind and are alone with the work and the space. The works all tell Greek stories - a nice connection to the architecture of the museum (see last post) now that I think of it. I should say they suggest, rather than tell, the stories - names emerge from his luscious scribbles of color and line: Ajax, Achilles, Cassandra, hinting at the power and often frightening depth of the original context through shades of red or grey, or smudged and broken line; if you didn't know the stories themselves, by paying attention to the nuances you would still feel the meaning. Although the references here are to Homer and the writings of Greek dramatists, it is said that much of our knowledge of Greek myths came to us by reading the storytelling on the vases, an extraordinary art form that also combines writing and visual imagery, thus making Twombley a 'continuer' of a tradition as well as a most contemporary artist.

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