Cy Twombly: Photography, Abstract Art and Memory

Cy Twombly, Foundry Naples. Image:Gagosian Gallery

Cy Twombly, Foundry Naples. Image:Gagosian Gallery


Cy Twombly captures time and memory in art photographs on display in Spain.


Cy Twombly, Flowers, St Barth’s 2011. Image: Gagosian Gallery

SPAIN- Presently at the Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa in Spain is an exhibition of photographers by Cy Twombly. Titled LUX, this is the first time photographs by this celebrated artist are on display in Spain. Presented in an atmosphere that conveys their poetry, the photographs tell the story of the artist’s career journey. Starting from the early 1950s when he was a student at the Black Mountain College, Cy Twombly began capturing his life in photographs. He carried this tradition through his death in 2011 at the age of 83.

ART AUCTION: Twombly’s Untitled, house paint and wax crayon on canvas, painted in 1970 sold for $69,605,000

The images Cy Twombly took reflected  his daily experiences. From  the verdant landscapes of Virginia and the coast of Italy, he captured them all. His attention to details was the impetus for some of the close up details of ancient buildings, sculptures, studio interiors, landscapes, still life and flowers.

An adventurous artist, Cy Twombly was always looking for new ways to express his artistic thoughts and ideas. In the early 1990s, he began utilizing specialized copiers to enlarge his Polaroid images on a matte paper. The result is an intense distortion of  the images in a way that approximates the timeless qualities of his paintings and sculptures. In a manner akin to Pictorialism popularize by photographers like Alfred Stieglitz, his prints elevate the images beyond their mechanical reproduction, inscribing them with new aura.

The exhibition at the Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa in Spain  includes forty photographs, many of which were taken in Rome, Capri,  St Barths and Gaeta between 1985 and 2011. The  garden in Gaeta was a particular point of reference for the artist. Overlooking the sea and landscape, there, he captured images of natural subjects, including landscapes, tulips, strawberries, cabbages, and lemons. He also took portraits of friends and family. The blurry intensity of the images, though abstract’s their originality, elevates their presence.

Cy Twombly’s mediation of his photographs situates them in the threshold of abstract and realism. This follows in the artist’s tradition of  engaging the concept duality and juxtaposition. They give birth to alternation between the visible and the hidden, between present and past, between light and shadow.

Each photograph in this show carry a physical and emotional aspect of Abstract Expressionism. They reference a wealth of historic and myth allusion, and are steeped with references to poetry and classical mythology. Many of the photographs capture a moment in time, revealing the struggle between memory and oblivion. They are epiphanies, capturing moments of transition when an action begins.

The collection of Cy Twombly’s photographs on display in Spain shows how they are related to, yet different from his paintings, drawings and sculptures. The distinct nature of  the  photographs draws from history in a way that challenges the concept of  time and memory. They reference  Julia Margaret Cameron’s atmospheric portraits and Henry Fox-Talbot’s early photographic prints. They are reminders of the contingency of fleeting moments.

Cy Twombly, Lemons, Gaeta 2005. Image: Gagosian Gallery

Cy Twombly, Tulips, 1985. Image: Gagosian Gallery

Cy Twombly, Cabbages, Gaeta 1998. Image: Gagosian gallery

Join the art conversation: Share your thoughts and comments. FacebookTwitterGoogle+