my make believe collection :: 10 :: cy twombly

Contributor post by Lisa Solomon

from the new york times: Cy Twombly at Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston in front of the gallery's largest painting, "Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor."
cy twombly passed away the other day at 83. and it got me thinking. i have been lucky enough in my lifetime to view several of his works in person. and really to understand and really inhale the nuance of these works you have to see them in person.

untitle, 1996
night watch 1966
there is a part of me that is so inherently drawn to abstract expressionalism. the energy of it. the surrender. its complete and utter ability to express joy, pain, freedom, release in dynamic strokes of pens, pencils, paints, chalk...  and what i love about twombly is the frenetic nature, the nod to expressionalism, but what really gets me is his concern and ability to marry the confidence and engagement of expressionalism with the familiarity and comfort of representation.

estate 1993-95
 his works hint to things we all know - flowers, boats, shapes, a made up alphabet, sometimes i feel like he is writing us a letter. one we can't really read, but whose content we understand in our hearts.

untitled 1974
i admire his ability to combine media. his fearlessness. it is rare that i sense a moment of doubt or indecision in the work. i have spent hours in discussion with students and fellow artists about the power and intoxication of confidence in art. twombly's work exudes it in spades.

untitled 1954
thicket 1992
he also made beautiful sculpture. i love the fact that you can often recognize the elements in the sculptural works, but that they seem transformed - altered - content with and excited by their new found life in the world.

epanto iii 2001
truth be told i'm more drawn to his "quieter works". the ones that don't have really thick paint or an expanded palette. i think the beauty and drama of his hand is more evident and easily read in the pieces that show color restraint.

the italians 1961
some people try to denigrate twombly's work by saying it's like a children's scribbles. sure. i wouldn't argue with that. it's said a lot about contemporary art work. and i think we should start to see it as a compliment. because for my money many children make incredible works of art. i do think one thing to consider is intention and control. i sort of think of it like this: kids say really really funny things - but would we consider them all professional comedians? also, i don't know any child that makes work THIS BIG [many of his works are room size] and there is power, intimidation, command in work that big.

ideas of march 1962
untitled 1970

there is also a serious personal investigation. can't you feel twombly creating his own visual vocabulary? hunting for the means and ways to express something? there is meaning in these scribbles i tell you :) ! [some of my favorite works of twombly's are the simple white scribble "erased" on black - the rhythm of them is hypnotizing]. i always tell students it's REALLY hard to make GOOD abstract work. and they don't believe me until they try it.

3 studies from temeraore

there is SO MUCH of twombly's work to look at. prolific through out his entire life [ah such an honorable trait], there are many many pieces of his i would be proud to own [but of course couldn't even scratch the surface of owning for real]. above is one of my absolute favorites and something i wish i could see in person for sure. i'm a fan of odd numbers so 3 canvases appeals to me. i love how the boat/bugs shift in number in each panel 3...2...1 [and how they shift in scale and location as well]. i love the simplicity. the bold strokes. the variation in texture the drips create. i love the negative space [you've heard this from me before]. 

i am sad that we lost such an inspiring soul, but am grateful for his long and productive art making career. thank you mr. twombly for making your work. be sure and visit his site as it is FULL of images and texts.

and keep track of my collection on pinterest. till next time. happy july [wait it's july? how did that happen?]


lisa solomon is a mixed media artist who lives in oakland, CA with her husband, young daughter, a one eyed pit bull, a french bulldog, a cross-eyed cat, a 3 legged cat, and many many spools of thread. she moonlights as a college professor, a graphic designer, and is a partner in MODify/d a crafty biz that up/cycles and re/purposes discards from the fashion industry.

Jan Halvarson


Anonymous said...

It's actually called abstract EXPRESSIONISM.

lisa solomon said...

true, but i like the word expressionalism :) i feel like it's more descriptive of the work :)
so sue me

cross street workshop said...

I too adore Twombly's work, I find most of it moves me to near tears when seen in the flesh and I am not even that sort of person. Thank you for such a wonderful post!

lindseybee said...

wow, what a great sculpture--I love that! Messy & pretty all wrapped into one.

lisa solomon said...

@cross street - it's so great when art moves you that way....

@lindseybee - EXACTLY messy and pretty. perfect harmony

Luna Levy said...

I also love Cy Twombly's work - there is a great permanent collection of his artwork here in Munich. At the Museum Brandhorst, he has the entire top floor :)

lisa solomon said...

oh stephanie - that is so wonderful. a whole floor ! :)