… not to fashion a nostalgic hymnology, but to communicate with the past by stripping it of its clothes (its different historical interpretations) and presenting it to us simply as it is: as forces that an any moment could turn into fact.
This is from ‘The Erography of Cy Twombly’ by Demosthenes Davvetas (1987) found in Writings on Cy Twombly edited by Nicola Del Roscio (2002):
… In the case of Twombly … that which will be altered is never ultimately transformed into that which is already altered: “graphing” itself seems to be continuous; the graph itself never seems to want to stop being that and that alone. Twombly’s are inscriptions that never want to take on a definite form, that is, to join with the other familiar marks of recognition in our record (text) of culture.
On the contrary, these are inscriptions that only scratch at and harass that text.
… This, then, is the spirit of “erography” — erotic, but also errant and erratic — that informs all of Twombly’s work, always suggesting a language but never allowing it to become reduced to an alphabet, always generating an emanation of character but never becoming a set of individual characters, like those in an alphabet, that would be obliged to take the shape of a word or phrase. Instead, we might say, Twombly’s work is a reification of an erratum, a page on which the artist inscribes his own errors, but simultaneously an erratum demanding that we examine the presumably “errorless” authority of cultural text.
… he rearticulates the “well known” as the “less known” and the “even less well known,” etc. to the point where it is barely “known” at all, until it could not possibly become something “known,” even something “recognizable” in the history of civilization.
… The work of Cy Twombly, then, can be likened to a permanently open door, where the door itself is a passageway, but where the art and artist stand permanently “in between.” In between, the artist is empowered to work outside of mannerisms. In between is what gives priority to extension and tension, and to the organic, and harmonic — over the geometric — spirit.
… The passion and the obsession of this American artist’s work is to be eternally present, and to be eternally present, time cannot be cut up into slices of “before,” “now” and “after.” For “I am present” means: I am in motion, I can travel to different times. It means: I am “here” but simultaneously I can go “there,” I can visit the “once upon a time” and I can visit the “someday.”
… Consequently, when Twombly uses myths, poetry, and old masters in his work, it is not to fashion a nostalgic hymnology, but to communicate with the past by stripping it of its clothes (its different historical interpretations) and presenting it to us simply as it is: as forces that at any moment could turn into fact.
My most recent previous post from this book is here.