Cy Twombly at the Hermitage.
The exhibition of Cy Twombly, counted among the major contemporary US artists, brings together his drawings, monotypes and paintings on paper, showcasing over 80 works from the earliest essays of 1953 to the latest creations on paper from the Italian Gaeta. Most of the exhibits loaned by Gagosian Gallery, New York and London, and the artist's own collection have never been showed before.
Cy Twombly who is honored as the patriarch of contemporary American art was born in Lexington, Virginia, in 1928. For the last 50 years he has been living in Italy, shuttling between Rome and Gaeta in Italy and Lexington in the United States.
American abstract impressionism of the 1950s was crucial for Cy Twombly as an artist, though he himself belonged to the next generation of post-representational abstract painting. To a great extent his art is derived from the great Jackson Pollock, who epitomized this artistic style, and Robert Rauschenberg, who introduced him to the cenacle of practicing abstract expressionists. The fledgling artist was hailed as a member of this new popular movement.
In the middle of the 20th century, when a generation of European talents who had rushed to conquer the arts market of the United States brought about the general recognition of this style, Cy Twombly dared to move in the opposite direction, settling for good in Italy and becoming a voluntary captive of the Mediterranean. From then on, his art was as closely tied to the roots of European civilization as to the culture of contemporary America.
The master's early works are untitled compositions, where sterile non-representation reigns supreme among radically complicated rhythms of simplistic lines and experiments with density and texture of surfaces. Later come drawings incorporating forms similar to protozoa, immersed into a world of soundless torments and conflicts. They are supplanted by the artist's long fascination with the ancient art of graffiti. Antique allusions gain in importance as the Cy Twombly is born whose name becomes synonymous with the brilliant success in art circles of both the Old and New Worlds at the end of the 20th century.
With the advent of post-modernism, critics began to seek Twombly's affinity beyond antiquity and Mediterranean graffiti - with the atmospheric whirlwinds of William Turner, lush vegetation of Odilon Redon, water-lilies of the later Claude Monet, prohibited flowers of Emil Nolde and the flux of classical Chinese painting - everything which is bright, colorful, vivid and somewhat obscure. Drawings gain in size, approximating the usual painting format. "Explosive" color spots are realized as a landscape which occupies a special place in the classical system of coordinates.
The artist's color sensitivity is extraordinary, making his creations ever more eloquent. By a few colors robustly applied against the snow-white background, the master accumulates an excessive "baroque" impulse, which is then projected onto the audience. This technique blurs the distinction between drawing and painting. Representation gradually regains its importance. Rome full of its incandescent ruins becomes ever more pronounced in Cy Twombly's creations. The gorgeous battle of Lepanto is floating amidst the glow of liquid gold and flame, and the expanses of the Naumachia are awash in water and blood.
In 2001, the jury of Venetian Bienalle awarded to Cy Twombly the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, thereby recognizing the exclusive place which belongs to this master in the world of contemporary art.
The exhibition is organized by Julia Sylvester, The Hermitage Curator of Contemporary Art, who works in close cooperation with the artist. It is remarkable that Cy Twombly himself is taking an active part in this exhibition project.