Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cy Twombly, Line and Space Man

Cy Twombly, gone from us at 83. Not a bad life - born in Virginia, named for a baseball player, kicked around Europe with his buddy Robert Rauschenberg, was at the legendary Black Mountain College, saw his paintings sell for multi-millions, spent the last fifty years living in Italy. He was - and will continue to be - one of my contemporary favorites. Here are a few of the reasons: his ice-dancing, free-flying, rope-throwing, calligraphy that looped and trailed around, across, and all over his canvases, blurring all distinctions between writing and drawing. His command of space - the beautiful empty stuff between the lines. He made it all look so easy and so much fun. He loved history and Greek myths. He let black and white (and shades of gray) be almost enough, with just enough color for sparkle where it was needed. He didn't write much about his work but here's a nice quote from an interview in 2000 “Each line is (now) the actual experience with its own innate history. It does not illustrate – it is the sensation of its own realisation.” Roland Barthes once said about his work: "It is in a wobbly line that we find the truth of a pencil.” His effect on people could be extreme - I know artists who don't care for him at all, but in 2007 one Twombly lover showed her passion by planting a lipstick kiss on a canvas (indelible, unfortunately - she was held responsible for the damage.) Here are a few examples:  'Poems of the Sea', a set of 24 works on paper from 1959, 'Apollo and the Artist (1975), and a view of 'Fifty Days at Illium,' ruminations on Greek ventures from the installation in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. If you have thoughts or feelings about Twombly and his work, leave a comment to remember him.

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