Edwin Parker Twombly (a.k.a. Cy Twombly) 1928 – 2011, took the nickname Cy from his father’s one summer pitching season for the Chicago White Sox, for whom he was called Cy after “Cyclone” Young.
Cy is a self-described ‘Mediterranean painter’, although it is the neoclassicism of his birth place, Lexington, Virginia, that often is deemed fundamental to his aesthetic disposition.
It was unmistakably clear that Cy was a happy, curious, enthusiastic, open-hearted painter. It was easy for him. There was no anguish or anxiety about what to create or how to create it. He did not go into his studio and agonize over communication as his system was to “follow the impulse until it stops.”
He experimented with media, and was lyrical in the script that he included in his works. Albeit mostly unintelligible, the script was poetic in appearance, and that was the poetry he loved. No anguish, “It’s more like having an experience than making a picture.”
The sensuality was exuberant.
“My lines are childlike, but are not childish. It is very difficult to fake … to get that quality you need to project yourself into the child’s line. It has to be felt.”
I think this is the natural love for life which childhood engenders.
“It’s more like having an experience than making a picture. So I’ve never had anyone around. I never have. People are different, but I have to really be with no interference. And it takes me hours. Painting a picture is a very short thing if it goes well, but the sitting and thinking… I actually go off on stories that have nothing to do with the painting, and sometimes I sit in the opposite room to where I work.”
Like a fire that consumes…
“When it does come, it is natural. I don’t force it, which would be in those periods when it is kind of barren. I’m not a professional painter, since I don’t go to the studio and work nine to five like a lot of artists. When something hits me, or I see a painting in nature, it gives me a thing and I go for it. But I don’t care if I don’t go for three or four months. You know, when it comes it comes.”
“I am not so sensitive to color, not really. I don’t use it with any nuance, that I know of. It’s the object; the form of the thing is more interesting to me than the color.”
Quattro Stagioni (Four Seasons from the Bassano in Teverini period) were mesmerizing; I was illuminated in sensations of integrity, joy, love, appreciation – human emotions transcending borders of time, space, gender, class, colour, religion, etc.
“Landscape is one of my favorite things in the world. Any kind of landscape stimulates me. In Virginia, I love to ride two or three hours every day, up the back up the back valleys, the back roads, the streams of water there. I would have liked to be Poussin. If I had a choice in another time. I had a Poussin period in my head.”
“I usually worked in the horizontal, not vertical. I would think of a vertical painting as a portrait and the horizontal is landscape. It’s psychological, instead of vertical and horizontal. But the ‘Four Seasons’ are not portraits.”
Fifty Days in Illiam …
Below, this painting (oil on wood in a tryptic) was a feeling of forest, air and sea. It was positioned alongside his sculpture series, constructed of wood and painted a white which felt like a garden of white joy.
“You try to perfect something; either an idea , a feeling or aplastic, a visual object. I study my paintings a lot, and the sculptures, and I can see the mistakes in these things. The ‘Green Paintings’ are extremely successful.”
Happy Saint Valentine’s Day, with love.