The Longevity of Cy Twombly
Twombly, now 82, is the great survivor of the heroic age of American painting, the generation of Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Jackson Pollock, who upended contemporary art.
Twombly is known for his scribbles, great looping calligraphies of white on black, of white on white—or, in the more recent Bacchus series, swoops of carmine three metres high. His paintings are a mass of marks, erasures and words. Phrases come and go, lines are repeated until they become incantatory. Sometimes you read a fragmentary part of a poem, or an allusion to a classical text, only for it to be crossed out. There are puns and odd misspellings: erudition giving way to doodling at the back of the class. And this is what I love: the way that there is slippage between an intended epic expression and a failure to finish.In his work he has both the shopping list and the great list of ships sent to attack Troy.