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Cy Twombly In Rome

Posted: Aug 23 2016

Cy Twombly’s scribblings, scratches, and smears personify the liberating and impromptu Abstract Expressionist movement-of-movement. A whimsical whirl of pencil, paint, and crayon suggesting letters, language, and numbers, a Twombly canvas crawls with contradictions.


Carelessness meets meticulousness, sensuality winks with wit, density dances on monochrome, and daily doodles become epic iconography. Ciao to New York scenes and circles– Franz Kline, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Robert Motherwell – as Rome beckoned Twombly like any Old Master calls for conversation with a New.


In 1957 the artist settled into that idyllic and inspirational city. Here he matured his message and medium – the graffiti and globules of his early works developed into the Roman referential neoclassicism of mythology, local tradition, and pre-1800 Italian painters.


The Baccchanalian bliss and halcyon scenery of The Eternal City can be joyfully, explosively experienced in Twombly’s The Italians; a blast of signs and symbols, charcoal rubs, wild markings, a blood red heart, all on a cool white surface.


Sexual energy and the hermetics of secret scrawls, the modernity of graphs and charts, thrash throughout the artist’s fetish for antiquity in not just his art but his Roman home as well.


Memorialized by Horst P. Horst for Vogue in 1966, the photographs of Cy’s abode reveal a symmetry between classical sculpture, gilded/golden opulent furniture, and profoundly modern art.


The interior is a magnificent mirror of his drawing duality, his ingenious linking of ancient to contemporary. A perfect dwelling for a Romantic Symbolist, a calligrapher of Keats, a painterly Primitivist, a writer, a looper, an exceptional eraser, a cultivator of cultural memory, and a deep appreciator of allegory, gods and heroes.




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