Cy Twombly Quatro Stagioni Autunno 1994

“…it is precisely as an attenuated Abstract Expressionist that Twombly has won a place in history. He preserved the Romantic subjectivity of a movement that, as American culture turned witheringly skeptical, lost all conviction. He did it by hazarding that conviction is overrated. Mere whim will serve just as well. Younger poetic abstractionists who bucked the tide of the sixties, notably Brice Marden, took heart from Twombly’s heroically languorous example. Around 1980, a retroactive recognition of his influence combined with the resurgent prestige of contemporary European art to boost his fame.” Peter Schjeldahl on Cy Twombly, March 7, 2005.

In the 1990s Cy Twombly was enjoying an artistic regeneration in his work and reputation. His AbEx process was offhand, loose, literary, brash and beautiful. In the 90s I walked into Gagosian gallery on Wooster Street and saw a giant Cy Twombly canvas covering the entire righthand wall of this cavernous building. It was a study of material, process and restraint – the exact opposite of Frank Stella’s “kitchen sink” corporate abstractions. Over the years it’s been this “provisional” quality in Cy’s work and process that’s provided a precedent for the many Abstract Mannerists that have followed. 

“…we must not forget that Surrealism itself was based in two divergent concepts, one in which works of art were first elaborated in the mind and then translated into pictorial matter. And another, which was based on the idea of automatic writing, or an interest in spontaneity, and of course that was the aspect most embraced by the Abstract Expressionists. However, Twombly’s work is remarkable, in part, because we always see him combining both ideas, collapsing them into a precarious equilibrium.” Olivier Berggruen and Mary Jacobus in conversation on Twombly, December 11, 2015.

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