010908: Tate Modern – Cy Twombly – Cycles and Seasons

Tate Modern – Cy Twombly – Cycles and Seasons Monumental scribbles In the centre of Cy Twombly’s retrospective at the Tate Modern are his cycles: works that had once received most contradictory reviews. In 1964 Donald Judd published a negative discourse about Twombly’s solo exhibit at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, while in 1983 Roland Barthes essays on Twombly’s oeuvre are among the best he has ever written. The now 80year old American artist has an exceptional position in the canon of art history. In Italy, far away from the dominant American art of Abstract Expressionism, of Pop and Minimal Art, he developed his unique picture language of gestures and signs – positioned somewhere between painting, graphics, and writing. Encoded messages and text fragments deeply rooted in mythology, poetry, and classic literature are closely connected to the passing of time. In The Italians (1961) enigmatic scribbles refer to body parts: breasts, phalli, blood, and semen, covered by multiple layers of colour. Cryptic language fragments and ciphers focus on language and its inherent (in)ability of articulation. Barthes described Twombly’s probing of linguistic borders, going beyond them, and adding additional references, as “baits of meaning”, which Twombly flings at the viewers. Good examples of this are the monumental seasons’ cycles (1992 – 1996) titled Primavera, Estate, Autumno, and Inverno, in which he conveys the four life cycles. In combination with the composition of the painting, text fragments by Rainer Maria Rilke and Giorgos Seferis evolve into lyrics. At last the theatrical finale: three of his latest works from the eight-piece series: Bacchus, Psilax, Mainomenos (2005) which Twombly created after focusing on Homer’s Ilias. He transposes Bacchus’ ambivalent nature into vermillion, the colour of blood and wine, and in an orgiastic gesture of euphorically ascending scribbles and loops, he creates a unique and flowing painting technique. The monumental dimension of these sanguine and monochrome works creates a sacral atmosphere of this choreographed installation. Undoubtedly the late works of the 80-year old deserve respect. Tate Modern SE1 9TG London, Bankside, until 14. 09. 08 www.tage.org.uk/modern/default.htm

Tate Modern
SE1 9TG London, Bankside
Tel: +44 20 7887 8000
Öffnungszeiten: Sunday to Thursday, 10.00-18.00 (galleries open at 10.15); Friday and Saturday, 10.00-22.00 (galleries open at 10.15); Last admission into exhibitions 17.15 (Fri and Sat 21.15);Closed 24, 25, 26 Decem

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