Cy Twombly ranks high on my list of favorite artists, right alongside his friend and fellow artist Robert Rauschenberg, with whom he shared a studio as well as a propensity for cat scratch marks of paint and pencil. His seemingly haphazard compositions have held me captivated in museums, where I have stood fixated, letting my eyes roam his great expanse of canvas until my feet became so tired that I actually sat down on the floor – an ardent devotee. This particular experience happened early in high school, when seeing a Twombly after years of studying only formalist, realistic and namely old portraiture and landscapes left me stunned, transfixed, as if anchored to the space in front of the painting by a force beyond my own.
Though Cy Twombly is best known, perhaps even exclusively so, for his paintings -those ferociously scribbled masterpieces – it’s his sculpture – seven pieces of it – that MoMA has recently acquired and put on exhibition. Almost all of Twombly’s sculptures are made from found materials, scrap wood and plaster that are assembled into composites and then covered in white paint, “unifying the various humble materials and giving them an ethereal presence.” Sure, or he whitewashed them right into the gallery walls and they stand out only because they’re mounted on a pedestal. Yes, his sculptural work possesses an undeniable textural quality – the variations in the monochromatic pieces of wood and fabric are quite lovely up close. From further back, however, they’re about as emotionally exciting as their color palette is varied.
The latest addition to the Louvre isn’t a centuries-old sculpture or Renaissance painting but a commission from contemporary American artist Cy Twombly. Twombly is the third contemporary artist who has been invited to install a permanent work at the Louvre, an effort to show the museum’s commitment to living artists and probably a smart way to keep it relevant. Anselm Kiefer was asked first in 2007 followed by Francois Morellet earlier this year, but previous artists have included Le Brun, Delacroix, Ingres and Georges Braque.