Author Topic: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no  (Read 1334 times)

Dryphtwood

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Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« on: July 05, 2011, 11:36:49 pm »
Well, the bottom has finally fallen out.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2011/07/cy-twombly-dies-83-modern-art.html

I have very mixed feelings about his work. Basically, the stuff that John Cage liked is the stuff I liked. When it became too, I don't know, overtly "urban" Cy Twombly's work lost much of its charm for me.

In memory of Mr Twombly, please post a painting of his that you like and one that you don't. Label them "Yes" and "No", but Yes doesn't have to mean 'I like'. Yes could mean "YES, that's exactly where he went wrong."

Yes:


No:

Selva Oscura

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Re: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2011, 12:00:28 am »
I like all of Twombly's work. He's one of my favourite painters in fact. I don't really have a yes/no thing about his paintings.

Dryphtwood

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Re: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2011, 12:21:12 am »
Fair enough! New rule: you don't have to play by the rules.  :)

Dryphtwood

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Re: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2011, 11:25:29 am »
Well, I clearly got this thread off on the wrong foot, and I'm sorry. Sometimes I get into these strangely flippant moods but I hope people can see past that. Can we start over?

Cage's observation about Twombly, which though it stuck with me may not have done him proper justice, was that his guileless and uninhibited 'scribblings' encouraged Cage to appreciate those textures in the world that came about with no artistic intent at all, such as the weathering patterns on a New York sidewalk. This resonated strongly with me, so strongly in fact that when I encountered a Twombly work that seemed too "made" I felt compelled to relegate it to some back bench rather than really look at it.



I suppose the trouble with this image for my sensibilities is that the iconography of it is really too reminiscent of graffiti, as if Twombly had all too consciously embraced the characterizations of his work formulated by others, i.e., that his work was reminiscent of the work of graffiti artists. So my flippancy might be traced to reviews of this slightly cringeworthy ilk: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2008/jun/03/cytwomblytheonlygraffitia -- not that I'm seeking an excuse. More like a dubious reason to justify why I haven't given the above image a proper reading. I have never seen it in person, either, by the way, so that's an additional ding against me as a commentator.

I'm far more prepared to see Twombly in the tradition of Pollock, which is still an extremely facile connection. It doesn't feel right to me, and this time I could perhaps venture a guess as to why. Pollock's paintings really were 'composed' with a sense of rhythm and contrast and to some degree at least a sense of pressure to 'fill the canvas' which even as long ago as Cézanne was a dictum artists were prepared to violate. Of course, Pollock's paintings would have lost their intensity if they hadn't just seemed to overwhelm the edges and threatened to burst beyond them. Anyhow, Twombly's intensity was of a very different variety, and in his best work it seemed as if that intensity was an attribute of the lines rather than of a sense (however intuitive and 'guileless') of artistic 'vision'.

You can see that my thoughts are all over the place, and I'm not sure I have made things any better with this post except to own up to my fuddle. As I give the above painting a second look, less encumbered by an externally imposed bias against 'made'-ness, I see a kind of foreground-middleground ambiguity that appeals to me very much indeed. The background is, of course, clearly identifiable as the dark blue, slightly green, texture in the, well, background. However, it seems that the conventional idea that brighter colors are more 'forward' is frustrated in a very specific sort of way. The more muted loops (which are also tendentially higher and larger) do not always acquiesce to being middle ground do they?

Talk to me about Cy Twombly. May he rest in peace.

SimonH

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Re: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2011, 11:56:24 am »
I don't know enogh about Cy Twombly - certainly don't know enough about the stages/progressions/sequences of his painting to talk to you about him, Drypht. Sorry :(.

I think this is possibly interesting (if you can access it: if not, PM me) http://www.lrb.co.uk/v26/n10/paul-myerscough/at-the-serpentine

At the risk of overdoing the links ... Twombly & Poussin? http://exhibitionpublicity.com/twombly-and-poussin-arcadian-painters-exhibition-at-the-dulwich-picture-gallery/445

Dryphtwood

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Re: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2011, 12:08:18 pm »
Thanks, SimonH - not overdoing the links at all! And those two are very useful indeed.

Dryphtwood

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Re: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2011, 02:24:06 pm »
Incidentally, Simon, your first link begins with these words:

Quote
You have to trust yourself in front of a Twombly. The critics won’t help. They’re worried about naivety – Twombly’s, or possibly their own – and tend to overcompensate for it.

So ... talk to me from a naïve place if you wish! I can out-naïve anyone!

SimonH

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Re: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2011, 10:28:24 pm »
I like the way Twombly's work (the work of his I know) looks. I also think it's very difficult (& maybe this is what Twombly ... puts on front of the person in front of one of his images) to look at an image, a picture, without making a text of it (which is not the same as a text in it). There's some fascinating work by Georges Didi-Huberman on Fra Angelico, attempting to look physically at the physical presence of the sparse paintings & the surrounding nothing space in Fra Angelico frescos. & a book by (I'm back inside books!) Philippe-Alain Michaud, Aby Warburg and the Image in Motion, which argues Warburg's pupils founded iconology against Warburg, who was interested not in static meaning but the ecstatic illusion of fixed images moving in space & time.

I don't know Twombly well enough to say this - but my doubts have to do with how a utopian freeing of the image from text/slogan/meaning, the exegetical dross of Simon Scharma/intellectual advertising/KNOWLEDGE can become another form of luxury goods, to be luxuriated in by collectors. But I like Twombly very much. Just don't know the work well enough.

[edit: by Warburg's pupils I mean his students ... though perhaps his pupils betrayed him, too :laughter3:]
« Last Edit: July 06, 2011, 10:48:32 pm by SimonH »

Selva Oscura

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Re: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2011, 10:55:13 pm »
One reason I'm interested in Twombly is that some years ago a musically knowledgeable art collector told me after a concert that a composition of mine which had been played reminded her of his paintings. But I was interested before that as well, not for the kind of reason you quote Cage as giving, but because they so obviously are the result of an explicit physicality with the medium, with a complexity that's fundamentally derived from that physicality.

This is the kind of painting I think of when his name is mentioned:


Colour is very important and inseparable from texture.

Offline JSC

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Re: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2011, 11:51:51 pm »
[edit: by Warburg's pupils I mean his students ...]
Simon, sometimes you make me laugh out loud very happily! :) :-*

[Actually your whole post made me very happy too, in a more serious way ... I don't know Twombly's work well enough either (beyond responding to the 'look' of it, which I too find very attractive), but everything you say is fascinating and seems very pertinent. (Now I sound like Alistair. :-\)]
Auch Engeln sind immer unterwegs.

SimonH

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Re: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2011, 08:50:59 am »
Gosh - thanks JSC  :-*.

I don't want to take this thread away from Twombly, but for a moment:  Didi-Huberman suggests that the space which surrounds Fra Angelico's images, the white-washed wall, was experienced not as a figure for Paradise but as paradisiacal space; not as a representation of that space. So that modern art criticism (criticism post Warburg) looks for meaning through iconology, takes iconology as fixed & key, & raises iconology to an interpretative position that is anachronistic. The meanings of late Medieval/Renaissance art were experienced as experience, as movement, not a fixed gesture.

Twombly's images (that I know) seem to me to enact rather than represent movement - but also to pull back from that enactment & mysteriously label it (the graffiti, the scraps of text). I wish I knew more, though ...

Offline increpatio

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Re: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2011, 12:08:18 pm »
Quote
I don't want to take this thread away from Twombly, but for a moment:  Didi-Huberman suggests that the space which surrounds Fra Angelico's images, the white-washed wall, was experienced not as a figure for Paradise but as paradisiacal space; not as a representation of that space. So that modern art criticism (criticism post Warburg) looks for meaning through iconology, takes iconology as fixed & key, & raises iconology to an interpretative position that is anachronistic. The meanings of late Medieval/Renaissance art were experienced as experience, as movement, not a fixed gesture.
Interestinggg.

(also, really like the image posted above).

Offline JSC

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Re: Cy Twombly (1928-2011), yes and no
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2011, 01:03:34 pm »
TJ Clark on Twombly, here ... :)
Auch Engeln sind immer unterwegs.