Cy Twombly. An Artist’s Bookshelf Review.



I’ve had a long love of books, and some of my most prized books are art books. This is a review of books from my collection that can be found on shelves in my studio. I will provide links when possible.

Cy Twombly.

Cy Twombly.

I was saddened to learn that Cy Twombly passed away on Tuesday, July 5, 2011. The critic Robert Hughes described him brilliantly as “the Third Man, a shadowy figure, beside that vivid duumvirate of his friends Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.”

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to get a copy of Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons, published by the Tate in conjunction with his retrospective at the Tate Modern in 2008, it is a beautifully designed book covering all periods of his long carer. Edited by Nicholas Serota, with essays by Nicholas Cullinan, Tacita Dean, and Richard Shiff. There is an interesting interview between Cy Twombly and Nicholas Serota in the book that begins with Twombly’s early formation and interests as artist that I particularly enjoyed.

Twombly is a difficult artist when first experienced, and the first time I saw his work I really didn’t know what I was looking at. Was it some kind of joke or the work of a mad man? Over time I’ve come to admire this great artist, and I suppose what really won me over to his work was his Nini’s paintings of 1971. they were painted in tribute to Nini Pirandeelo who was the wife of Twombly’s Roman gallerist, they really are beautiful gestures.

Is is strange to love a book? All my life I’ve escaped into books, and it excites me to see my children developing a deep love of books and art. Looking through this book again tonight really does bring back that thrill I get when I’m enjoying a book. I love this beautiful book, and the art of Twombly has made the world a better place.

A Wednesday list of ten things I like.

This is not a top ten list, but rather a totally random list of things I like. listed in alphabetical order of course, and complete with links where possible.

1. Barber shops. When I think of barber shops I often remember the barber shops of my youth. My memories of these shops usually include dead animals stuffed and mounted on the wall, and staring at me as I received yet another terrible haircut. Today I look for certain things in a barber shop, and if there are dead things on the wall that’s okay, but I prefer a shop that has some kind of personal collection, say pins or hockey cards. There should be hair on the floor, and some small talk thrown in. I should leave the shop knowing some gossip concerning City Hall or some such organization. My favorite barber shop is Ray’s Place on Kent Street, and I go there every six months for my haircut whether I need it or not.

2. Bick’s Kosher Style Baby Dill Pickles. I love pickles and these are my favorites. They are sure to make a snap when you bite them, and they are great with everything. Except coffee. I once ate a pickle while drinking coffee and it wasn’t good.

3. Matthew Collings is a writer, artist, and broadcaster. I’ve enjoyed reading his books; they are fun, light, and fast reads, and offer at times a scathing commentary on contemporary art. Art Crazy Nation, and Blimey are two of his books that I would recommend if you are looking for a bit of gossipy art news. Each is about the English art scene, and the YBAs get a lot of ink.

4. Fish & Chips. I love to go to a new restaurant and try their fish & chips. It is surprising how often someone can mess up a nice piece of fish, and it is surprising to see what some people try to pass off as a nice piece of fish. For me the best place in Charlottetown to get good fish & chips is Brit’s on University Avenue.

5 Milk. I’m a huge fan of cookies, and what can be better than a nice cold glass of milk with cookies! You can even dunk your cookies in the milk and they will taste even better! Having trouble going to sleep? Warm milk will do the trick every time!

6. Murder mysteries. I enjoy reading crime fiction, and I’ve been reading it ever since I was a kid and first read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe. Some murder mysteries can be little more than fun trash, but some can rise to a high level of literary fiction. Some of my favorite writers are, Ian Rankin, David Hewson, and Martha Grimes. Recently my friend Ann introduce me to the work of Peter Robinson, and I’ve really been enjoying his Inspector Banks series.

7. Trees. I love trees, and I find it strange to drive past a house on a large lot and see no trees. Charlottetown still has some great old trees, and it is great to see new trees being planted. My favorite trees are white birch and red oak. A great place to buy trees native to PEI is the Macphail Woodlot.

8. Cy Twombly sculpture. Twombly is one of my favorite painters. His paintings of the 1960’s are in my opinion some of the finest abstract paintings ever created. Another wonderful, and maybe undervalued, aspect of his work is his sculptural output. They are humble, simple pieces, most often created with simple scrap of wood and nails, and other modest materials, and painted white. Yet they seem to have an air of mystery and beauty that reminds me of objects that could have been found in an ancient Egyptian tomb.

9. Staedltler Permanent Lumocolor pen. It is great to draw with markers but the problem with markers is that they fade so fast. The Permanent Lumocolor pen feels like a marker but is lightfast. It is also great on many surfaces.

10.Yupo synthetic paper. I’ve tried this paper recently, and I was excited how well it worked with watercolours and inks. Yupo is a synthetic alternative to traditional watercolour papers, and is recommended for offset printing, silkscreen, and embossing. It works well with oils, acrylics, and drawings. It is neutral pH with a smooth surface, resists tearing and remains flat and doesn’t buckle.