Artists Cy Twombly and Lucian Freud now fascinate me the most. My current obsession started with antipathy and even disgust.
I asked myself shameful questions like “Is this really art?”, “Would there be a scandal if this really was done by a child?”. They popped in my head even after reading a dozen books on art history and theory. Two of those books even had such pretentious names as these questions.
I was puzzled about Freud and Twombly, despite knowing how to look behind the scenes and how to understand art.
A quick disclaimer on how to understand art:
- You should read about the art piece and artist. Museum plates near paintings are there for that reason.
- Try to feel and see deeply with the child’s curious eyes. Personal conclusions, thoughts, visions are welcome and are “right”.
Since then, I have read the book “Breakfast with Lucian” (Freud) and bought 2 books “About Modern Art” and “Interviews with American Artists” of an art critic David Sylvester, the only interviewer of Cy Twombly. Each book has a small 10-page chapter about him. Look at his analogy of Twombly works: “Playing with the tide is a matter of getting its rhythm right without caring whether it is coming in or going out.” I got inspired for writing by finishing reading the second article.
Reading about art is the beauty in itself. It’s like semi poetry but without a rhyme (I hate rhyme). It’s like materialized philosophy, psychology, and logical analysis combined with vivid analogies.
Lucian Freud disgusted me with a deformed view of the human body as I saw it, a bit neglecting as if trying to show it worse than it actually is. I could not understand why he is showing it this way until I read about his approach to art.
I wish there was a book or a compilation of definitions of art by artists, art historians, and critics. I started to gather such a list for myself.
Lucian Freud’s nudes are real, yet not erotic, they are neutral in an extreme way. When you actually notice this, you are surprised and if you saw something huge hidden in an obvious place in a small room and you wonder how that’s possible. There is more to say, maybe even too much more. That’s why I’ll stop here. And yes, in case you were wondering, he was an antisemitic grandson of Sigmund Freud and had 14 children from different women. He drew a portrait of the Queen. As of 2018, his painting was the most expensive of a living artist in the world. I’m happy if I could intrigue enough to look up more about him.
As for Cy Twomby, I was startled with too much simplicity and naivety in his paintings. Now I know how many layers are hidden in his works. Just naming topics would take some time: visual poetry, abstract display of reasoning and of the flow of thought, the concept of “letting go” antiquity, boats, landscapes, seasons, cryptography and calligraphy, erotism (no artist omits this topic). After knowing his biography, these things become logical. He grew up in a mounty state in USA and lived in Italy for most of his life, he worked in the army as a cryptographer.
Cy Twombly's paintings are philosophical and deep, yet so plain and simple, joyful, just as unnoticeable moments of happiness. It can be a smile of yours or not child, or the sunbeam straight in your eye which will distract you from a routine, or a slow walk in your own street rustling fallen autumn leaves, or seeing someone hugging, or smiling to yourself as you come up with a joke which only your closest friend would appreciate, or sipping tea with the perfect amount of lemon and sugar, just as your mother prepared when you got ill in your childhood.
That’s why I had shivers when I first saw his 3 paintings by Cy Twombly this February. You could see them in Berlin on a permanent exhibition in the Berlin museum of contemporary art in ex train station building.