Cy Twombly's Transformations / States of Mind / Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig Wein.

2009 / Johanna Burton »

Cy Twombly. Untitled No. 4 of the series: Carnations, 1989



[1.] Kirk Varnedoe, "Inscriptions in Arcadia," in Cy Twombly: A Retrospective, New York, MoMA, 1994, p.9. 2 Varnedoe, p. 10. 3 rbid. 4 An interesting assessment of the unstable status (and the vicissitudes) of the "pastoral" as a genre to be found in unlikely places is Thomas Crow's "The Simple Life: Pastoralism and the Persistence of Genre in Recent Art," in his Modern Art in the Common Culture, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1 996, pp. 17 3-2 1 I. 5 It's important to note that, writing in the mid-nineties, as he is, Varnedoe does devote a final section to a brief reprisal of Twombly's then very most recent work, in a section titled "Flowers and Light: Gaeta, 1990." Here, even more than in the section on the 70s and 80s, he gives the analysis over to more impressionistic strokes, linking this "wettest" (as he calls it) moment in Twombly's painting to a willful "regression" to the "infantile" in order to move closer to "the sensual, instinctive dimensions." For a different, though related, reading with regard to the childlike and its proximity to the bodily and the sensual with regard to Twombly, see Yve-Alain Bois, "A certain infantile thing," in: Eva Kellere and Reguia Malin (eds), in: Audible Silence: Cy Twombly at Daros, Scalo, Zurich, 2002, pp. 71*72. 6 Varnedoe, p. 46. 7 See, for instance, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, "Figures of Authority, Ciphers of Regression: Notes on the Return of Representation in European Painting," in October, no. 16 (Spring 1981), pp. 39-68 and Hal Foster, "Between Modernism and the Media," in his Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cubural Politics, New York, The New press, 1985, pp. 33-57 8 For instance, see Rosalind Krauss, "Cy's Up," in Artforum, September 1994, p.71. 9 "Cy Twombly, 2000" in: David Sylvesler, Interrtiews with American Artists, New Haven, Yale University Press, pp. 171-181. 10 "Twombly," in: Sylvester, pp.177-178. 11 Yarnedoe,pp.45-46. 12 "Twombly." in Sylvester, p. 178. 13 Douglas Crimp, Pictures, New York, Artists Space, 1977, p. 5. 14 Crimp, p. 28. 15 Owens, p. 58. It is interesting to note that the stakes around articulating a breach between modernism and postmodernism were extremely pressing at this time. In fact, between Crimp's original 1977 "Pictures" essay and his 1979 rewrite, he altered his own terms dramatically, claiming for his (slightly altered) group of artists a fully altered status: that of postmodern. 16 Craig Owens, "The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism," reprinted in: Owens, Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992, p. 58. 17 For a good, recent survey of the ways in which Twombly has been accounted for art historically over the years, see von Bird, "Indeterminacy and (Dis)order in the work of Cy Twombly," ln: Oxford Art Journal, 30.3, 2007, pp.484-504. Within his essay, Bird names a number of categories that he argues have been used to approach Twombly over the years. Like Varnedoe, if different in method, he wants to insist on a more complicated, less constrained way of discussing Twombly, so as to activate a kind of language that is in dialogue with the work and, to this end, itself not wholly resolved - which is to say, that he is proposing a kind of critical response that recognizes what it cannot describe while attempting to do so anyway. Emphasizing both the (productively failed) communicative aspect of Twombly's work as well as the palpable desire to invest bodily in his work (the ever-present thought of trying to do it yourself), Bird offers this bracket of terms as his own: "Indeterminacy and (Dis)order." l8 In: Barthes, "Cy Twombly on Paper," 1976 and "The Wisdom of Art," 1979. lg "Foreword by Kurt Vonnegut, fr.," in: Anne Sexton, Transformations (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1971).


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