Cy Twombly: April
"I'm not a professional painter,
since I don't go to the studio and work nine to five like a lot of artists. When something hits me, or I see a painting, or
when I see something in nature, it gives me a thing and I go for it. But I don't care if I don't go for three or four months.
You know, when it comes it comes."
Cy Twombly emerged as a major color
field artist, although there are a lot of action painting elements in his works. He first began his studies at the
School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston before transferring to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. By
1950 he was working and studying in New York at the Art Students League before, again transferring to the Black Mountain College
in North Carolina where he studied under Robert Motherwell, Ben Shahn, and Franz Kline. in 1952, he and close friend, Robert Rauschenberg traveled to South America, North Africa, Spain and Italy.
As Twombly’s career advanced and as he gained knowledge through his
experiences, his distinct style emerged. Through a series of symbols, words, numbers, and images, he would communicate to
the masses. High fassion designer, Proenza Schouler, used fabrics inspired by Twombly's work. The flat treatment of picture
plain was his preferred handling the surfaces of the paintings. "The form of the thing is more interesting
to me than color. I take the color as primary, like, if it's the woods, it's green; if it's blood, it's red; if it's
earth, it's brown…My line is childlike but not childish. It is very difficult to fake.. to get that quality you need
to project yourself into the child's line. It has to be felt." His rendering space was inspired in part through his
admiration of Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Although his work has a look of quick application, it is extremely
well planned. "When I work, I work very fast, but preparing to work can take any length of time. It can
even be a year." Many of his artworks remind me of a mad scientists notes. Its is a random jotting of names and
numbers that mean very little until discovering the thread that ties it all together. Some have also compared it to a Rothko
painting in a blender. Maybe there was a link to his art and his work for the army. In 1953, at the end of the Korean war,
he worked as a cryptologist. A cryptologist is a decoder skilled in analyzing codes.
A prime example of his work is Untitled, created in 1957. I discovered this work on my 2010 visit to
Spain at the Reina Sofia. In this work,
as is common, his gestural writings are converted into artworks that go against all the rules of painting and disregard the
traditions of painting how-to. His art is more like street graffiti in its mesh with the everyday than that one first think
of as painting.
1959. Oil, wax crayon, graphite on canvas. 57.6 X 79 in. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte
Reina Sofia. Madrid, Spain.
Since 1957, Twombly has spent most of his time in his adopted home of Italy.
"When I came to Rome I, always wondered why there were books, with photographs, on all the artists of
my period and I was only in one! I thought, ‘where was I?’ But I never was there. I was somewhere else."
Over time his contribution to art was honored by numerous awards and honors. The Cy Twombly Gallery opened in Houston, Texas
in 1995. He currently lives between Lexington, Virginia and Rome, Italy.