AH! The Peonies
Took off his
Gagosian is proud to present an exhibition of recent paintings by Cy Twombly. A Scattering of Blossoms and Other Things was first shown at the Collection Lambert in Avignon, France, earlier this year.
Twombly conceived these vast and exuberant panel paintings with the decor and balanced order of the typical eighteenth-century hôtel particulier in mind. The paintings in this most recent group are in a large horizontal format, each comprising six wooden panels. Across their broad surfaces, ideogrammatic blossoms of vivid crayon and viscous pigment and haikus penciled in the artist’s tremulous scrawl combine and contrast with drips and efflorescent flows of startling, sometimes offbeat mannerist color—burgundy, damask yellow, vermilion, rose, and mint green. Each of these so-called “peony” paintings is a daring invention, combining influences as diverse as French Enlightenment art, furnishings, and architecture; Japonisme; and the élan vital of Twombly’s own original Abstract Expressionism.
Twombly’s previous Bacchus series (2005) seethed with the visceral energies of war. In A Scattering of Blossoms… war cedes to flowers, for which the hero of the famous haiku disarms himself. Peonies are the favored flowers of Japanese aesthetic contemplation, appearing frequently in illustrations, folding screens, and haikus of the Edo period. Once in bloom, they offer a rush of color and texture. Here, their fragile headiness is captured and memorialized in both image and inscription. By adding his own recollections of haikus by the famous seventeenth-century Japanese masters Bashō and Kikaku, Twombly points to the human implications that these full-blown, elegaic paintings hold for an artist in the later stages of his life and career.
Twombly has always blurred the line between painting and drawing, with his strong emphasis on sensation and sensibility, combining elements of gestural abstraction, drawing, and writing in a highly idiosyncratic and potent expression. At once epic and intimate, his work is infused with words, names, and references to poetry, mythology, and history. The alternation between the visible and the hidden, between clear and obscured forms, and the struggle between memory and oblivion are unifying themes in his work.
A fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by art historian Robert Pincus-Witten will be available.
Cy Twombly: Imperfect Paradise
Eleonora Di Erasmo, cocurator of Un/veiled: Cy Twombly, Music, Inspirations, a program of concerts, video screenings, and works by Cy Twombly at the Fondazione Nicola Del Roscio, Rome, reflects on the resonances and networks of inspiration between the artist and music. The program was the result of an extensive three-year study, done at the behest of Nicola Del Roscio in the Rome and Gaeta offices of the Cy Twombly Foundation, intended to collect, document, and preserve compositions by musicians around the world who have been inspired by Twombly’s work, or to establish an artistic dialogue with them.
Cy Twombly: Making Past Present
In 2020, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, announced their plan for a survey of Cy Twombly’s artwork alongside selections from their permanent ancient Greek and Roman collection. The survey was postponed due to the lockdowns necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, but was revived in 2022 with a presentation at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles from August 2 through October 30. In 2023, the exhibition will arrive at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The curator for the exhibition, Christine Kondoleon, and Kate Nesin, author of Cy Twombly’s Things (2014) and advisor for the show, speak with Gagosian director Mark Francis about the origin of the exhibition and the aesthetic and poetic resonances that give the show its title: Making Past Present.
Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor
Thierry Greub tracks the literary references in Cy Twombly’s epic painting of 1994.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2021
The Summer 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Carrie Mae Weems’s The Louvre (2006) on its cover.
Twombly and the Poets
Anne Boyer, the inaugural winner of the Cy Twombly Award in Poetry, composes a poem in response to Twombly’s Aristaeus Mourning the Loss of His Bees (1973) and introduces a portfolio of the painter’s works accompanied by the poems that inspired them.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2021
The Spring 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Gerhard Richter’s Helen (1963) on its cover.