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.
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The River Café Cookbook
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Sally Mann and Jenny Saville
The two artists discuss being drawn to difficult subjects, the effects of motherhood on their practice, embracing chance, and their shared adoration of Cy Twombly.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.
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In Beauty it is finished: Drawings 1951–2008
March 8–April 25, 2018
West 21st Street, New York