Feature: Sunday Painter | Georg Baselitz

Georg Baselitz

German Neo-Expressionist painting, Georg Baselitz (zʇᴉlǝsɐq ƃɹoǝפ) is this week’s #SundayPainter.


In the 1960s, Georg Baselitz emerged as a pioneer of German Neo-Expressionist painting. His work evokes disquieting subjects rendered feverishly as a means of confronting the realities of the
modern age and explores what it is to be German and a German artist in a
postwar world. In the late 1970s his iconic “upside-down” paintings, in
which bodies, landscapes, and buildings are inverted within the picture
plane, ignoring the realities of the physical world, make obvious the
artifice of painting. Drawing upon a dynamic and myriad pool of
influences, including art of the Mannerist period, African sculptures,
and Soviet era illustration art, Baselitz developed a distinct painting

Georg Baselitz (b. 1938, Deutschbaselitz, Saxony) lives and works near
Munich, Germany and in Imperia, Italy. Public collections include Museum
Ludwig, Cologne; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of
Art, New York; and Tate Modern, London. Major museum exhibitions
include Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1995, traveled to Los
Angeles County Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,
Washington, D.C., and Nationalgalerie, Berlin); “Aquarelles
Monumentales,” Albertina, Vienna (2003); Royal Academy of Arts, London
(2007, traveled to MADRE, Naples, through 2008); “Prints: 1964 to 1983,”
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2008); Galleria Borghese, Rome (2011);
Pinacoteca, São Paulo, Brazil (2011); “Baselitz as Sculptor,” Musée
d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2011–12); Essl Museum, Vienna
(2013); Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2013); Guggenheim Museum
Bilbao, Spain (2013); and “Georg Baselitz: Remix,” Albertina, Vienna
(2014). A major survey of Baselitz’s paintings and sculpture is on view
at Haus der Kunst, Munich through February 1, 2015.


( http://www.gagosian.com/artists/georg-baselitz  )

Marlene Dumas | The Image as Burden 5 February – 10 May 2015

Tate Modern

Marlene Dumas is one of the most prominent painters working today. Her intense, psychologically charged works explore themes of sexuality, love, death and shame, often referencing art history, popular culture and current affairs.

‘Secondhand images’, she has said, ‘can generate first-hand emotions.’ Dumas never paints directly from life, yet life in all its complexity is right there on the canvas. Her subjects are drawn from both public and personal references and include her daughter and herself, as well as recognisable faces such as Amy Winehouse, Naomi Campbell, Princess Diana, even Osama bin Laden. The results are often intimate and at times controversial, where politics become erotic and portraits become political. She plays with the imagination of her viewers, their preconceptions and fears.

Born in 1953 in Cape Town, South Africa, Dumas moved to the Netherlands in 1976, where she came to prominence in the mid-1980s. This large-scale survey is the most significant exhibition of her work ever to be held in Europe, charting her career from early works, through seminal paintings to new works on paper.

The title of the exhibition is taken from The Image as Burden 1993, a small painting depicting one figure carrying another. As with many of Dumas’s works, her choice of title deeply affects our interpretation of the work. It hints at the sense of responsibility faced by the artist in choosing to create an image that can translate ideas about painting and the position of the artist. For Dumas it is important ‘to give more attention to what the painting does to the image, not only to what the image does to the painting.’

In an age dominated by the digital image and mass media, Dumas cherishes the physicality of the human touch with work that is a testament to the meaning and potency of painting.

A survey of works by the South-African born artist gives reason to why she is perhaps the world’s most interesting figure painter

a thrilling retrospective
The Guardian

Sex and death — Dumas always keeps us on our toes.
Ben Luke, The Evening Standard

even in a world awash with imagery, painting can still move, even haunt
The Daily Telegraph

Banner image credits:Marlene Dumas Rejects 1994–2014 Private collection © Marlene Dumas

Exhibition organised by Tate Modern in collaboration with Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

( http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/marlene-dumas-image-burden )

Paul Gauguin | Nafea Faa Ipoipo sells for $300m


The record for the sale of painting has been broken with the £300m sale of Paul Gauguin’s Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) Gaugin died penniless in 1903.

Retired Sotheby’s executive and art collector Rudolf Staechelin sold the piece, reportedly to state-financed Qatar Museums, breaking the previous record of $259 million for The Card Players by Paul Cezanne which also went to a buyer in Qatar.

David Hockney | Some New Painting (and Photography)

Photography: Installation views by Tom Barratt; Artwork images by Richard Schmidt

PACE Gallery | New York | 8 November 2014 – 10 January 2015

PACE Gallery in New York have the ever-prolific David Hockney on show in a wonderful exhibition of new paintings (…and photography).


New York—Pace Gallery is pleased to announce Some New Painting (and Photography), David Hockney’s first exhibition of new paintings since 2009. Following The Arrival of Spring, it is Pace’s second presentation of Hockney’s work this year. The exhibition will be on view at 508 West 25th Street from November 8, 2014, through January 10, 2015. To accompany the exhibition, Pace will publish a catalogue featuring a new essay by critic Martin Gayford, author of A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney (Thames & Hudson, 2011).

Some New Painting (and Photography) is Hockney’s first exhibition of works completed since his return to Los Angeles from England, where he spent a decade pictorially exploring the East Yorkshire landscape of his youth.

The works in the exhibition demonstrate Hockney’s longstanding dedication to painting and to depicting the human figure. Hockney made all of these works in his Los Angeles studio using live models—friends, colleagues and dancers. The exhibition includes seated portraits of individuals, a series of paintings that recalls Matisse’s masterpiece Dance and paintings of figures posing in his studio. Hockney moved his figures and objects around the studio. Playing with time and space, some figures appear more than once in the same painting.

The paintings highlight enduring interests and motifs in Hockney’s work: art history, pictorial space and portraiture. Martin Gayford wrote these paintings create a new kind of pictorial space: “Each figure contains within it multiple points of view, and so does the picture as a whole. Consequently, the viewer in turn feels in a different relation to every person in the picture, and the whole painting feels very different to one that contains just one angle of vision.”

The exhibition also includes five photographic drawings exhibited on high-definition screens. The works juxtapose elements he has drawn with photographs taken during sessions painting groups in his studio. Following his recent iPad drawings and video works, the photographic drawings continue Hockney’s use of technology to produce images.

Although each figure depicts someone specific, Hockney is less interested in representation or documentation. Rather he is interested in advancing his study of pictorial space and perspective. Art historian Kay Heymer wrote, “Hockney treats the people in his pictures as actors in a scheme reaching beyond biographical or psychological narration. He is on a continuous journey, his art testifying to what he has seen.”

Hockney lives and works between Los Angeles and Yorkshire. This is his third exhibition with Pace.

http://www.pacegallery.com/newyork/exhibitions/12713/some-new-painting-and-photography  )

Feature: Sunday Painter | Miles Davis

The art of a man whose music is regular played in the office, Mr Miles Davis, is this week’s Sunday Painter.  Lots of abstract, free flowing painting as you might expect.


One of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century, Miles Davis was a man of many talents. Around 1980, he turned to sketching and painting to, as he explained, keep his “mind occupied with something when [he was] not playing music.” This hobby quickly turned into a serious passion, and Davis approached it with the same obsessive creativity he applied to music. The result is an impressive archive of unique and evocative visual work showcasing the varied skill of this legendary artist.

Throughout the 1980s, Davis studied regularly with New York painter Jo Gelbard, developing a distinct graphic style. Incorporating bright colors and geometric shapes, his art is reminiscent of work by Pablo Picasso as well as African tribal art, the historical influences he cited during occasional interviews on the subject. Author Scott Gutterman sat down with Miles Davis himself before he died in 1991 and the artist’s own commentary accompanies this remarkable showcase of his work.

Sadly, very few of his pieces were exhibited during Miles Davis’s lifetime. Over the last two decades, the Estate of Miles Davis has worked with gallery owners and private parties to assemble a comprehensive collection of the musician’s artwork.

http://www.amazon.com/Miles-Davis-The-Collected-Artwork/dp/1608872238  )

Egon Schiele – Jenny Saville

Kunsthaus Zürich | 10 October 2014 – 25 January 2015

The work of Egon Schiele and Jenny Saville brought together in what looks to be a fascinating and visually stunning exhibition.


This exhibition brings together the expressionistic oeuvre of the Austrian artist Egon Schiele (1890 –1918) and works by the British painter Jenny Saville (b. 1970), for a fascinating dialogue between the virtuoso exponent of Viennese Modernism and a contemporary artist. The exaggerated, obsessive depiction of corporality compels the viewer to engage directly with the act of painting as a physical medium.

This is an open encounter between two artists separated by almost a century that unites contrast and convergence. The two visibly retain their autonomy, and Schiele is not posited as an influence on the later artist. While his work is presented in a loose chronological sequence, Saville’s paintings interact sometimes in isolation, sometimes in small groups of works or motifs. The airy hanging sets the visual tone, thus challenging the viewer’s perception. The exhibition confronts 35 paintings by Schiele with 16 large-format works by Jenny Saville as well as ‘studies’ that deal with texture and materiality – what Saville herself terms ‘mark-making’.

Some 55 works on paper offer an insight into Schiele’s mastery of the art of drawing. Presented in small groups focusing on selected themes, they reveal an artistic intensity that does not shy away from extremes.

Supported by the art insurance specialist Nationale Suisse, other patrons and our sponsoring paint supplier Farrow & Ball.

More information: http://www.kunsthaus.ch

Andy Warhol – Mao, 1973

Art Institute Chicago

We were lucky enough to get to see ‘s huge, floor to ceiling artwork, ‘Mao’ -1973 at the in

Sunday Painter | Robert Delaunay

Last weekend’s Robert Delaunay featured in this interesting video from


Delaunay was fascinated by how the interaction of colors produces sensations of depth and movement, without reference to the natural world. In Simultaneous Contrasts that movement is the rhythm of the cosmos, for the painting’s circular frame is a sign for the universe, and its flux of reds and oranges, greens and blues, is attuned to the sun and the moon, the rotation of day and night. But the star and planet, refracted by light, go undescribed in any literal way. “The breaking up of form by light creates colored planes,” Delaunay said. “These colored planes are the structure of the picture, and nature is no longer a subject for description but a pretext.” Indeed, he had decided to abandon “images or reality that come to corrupt the order of color.”

The poet Guillaume Apollinaire christened Delaunay’s style “Orphism,” after Orpheus, the musician of Greek legend whose eloquence on the lyre is a mythic archetype for the power of art. The musicality of Delaunay’s work lay in color, which he studied closely. In fact, he derived the phrase “Simultaneous Contrasts” from the treatise On the Law of the Simultaneous Contrast of Colors, published in 1839 by Michel-Eugène Chevreul. Absorbing Chevreul’s scientific analyses, Delaunay has here gone beyond them into a mystical belief in color, its fusion into unity symbolizing the possibility for harmony in the chaos of the modern world.

http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=78302 )

Sunday Painter | Howard Hodgkin

This week we have Howard Hodgkin in our #SundayPainter feature.  The famous abstract painter was well-known for painting small pieces, usually incredibly slowly, but that still maintained emphatic power and resonance.


In exploring the very nature of painting both as cultured language and sheer expression, Hodgkin disregards the classical polarities of abstraction and representation, past and present, canvas and frame. Assertive compressed gestures, sweeping complex textures, a lush palette, and the dynamic interchange of light and dark are all traits of his distinctive signature. With their maximalist gestures and saturated colors, his more intimately scaled paintings appear jewel-like, while larger works are opulent and theatrical. With incorporated frames and painted wooden supports, they operate as both objects and images.

Embracing spontaneity and directness in equal measure to the processes of reflection and capitulation, it may take a year for Hodgkin to prepare to execute a single brushstroke. The seemingly casual, urgent quality of his paintings belies the fact that most of them have been worked on for two or three years. More than ever they convey the relationship between hand, eye, and memory that drives their process, visual structure, and emotional temperature.

Howard Hodgkin was born in London in 1932, where he lives and works. He attended Camberwell School of Art and the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham. Major museum exhibitions include “Paintings 1975–1995,” Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (opened 1995 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, traveled to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Kunstverein Düsseldorf, and Hayward Gallery, London in 1996); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, (2006, traveled to Tate Britain and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid); “Paintings: 1992–2007,” Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (2007, traveled to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge); “Time and Place, 2001–2010,” (Museum of Modern Art Oxford (2010, traveled to De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, Tilburg, The Netherlands, and San Diego Museum of Art, 2010–11); and “Howard Hodgkin,” Fondation Bemberg, Toulouse, France (2013). Gagosian Gallery has hosted numerous exhibitions of Hodgkin’s paintings, the first of which took place in New York in 1998.

( www.gagosian.com )


Sunday Painter | Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly is this weekend’s artist in our Sunday Painter series.  The incredibly influential abstract painter’s work is instantly recognisable across his many large scale canvasses.


In 1962 Cy Twombly (born 1928 in Lexington, Virginia) painted a work that illustrates many of the abiding engagements of his practice. Untitled is divided into two zones by a horizontal line about two thirds of the way up. Across the bottom edge of the canvas, Twombly has scribbled a textual fragment gleaned from the poet Sappho: “But their heart turned cold + they dropped their wings.” The phrase, suggesting a hovering between higher and lower realms, conjures up a distant classical realm, even as the grappling, awkward hand renders the words materially present.

In the upper third of the canvas, the artist provides a code for viewing: a white circle swirled with pink is labelled “blood”; an aggressive red “x” reads “flesh”; a glutinous dollop of brown paint, “earth” or possibly “youth”; a delicate disc of wispy white paint, “clouds”; and a shiny coin-shaped form in graphite pencil, “mirror”. Beneath this code, Twombly has rendered, within a drawn frame, an array of possibilities for mark-making per se, as though to set them apart from the more direct references of words.

The elements of the code come from three distinct experiential fields: the elemental (earth and clouds), the somatic (flesh and blood) and the subjective (mirror). And they can be mapped on to three corresponding traditional genres of oil painting, respectively: landscape, figure and self-portraiture. In Untitled we see Twombly’s invocation of myth and poetry, his wavering between high and low and his sustained dwelling on the threshold where writing becomes drawing or painting. Perhaps most importantly, we see in this painting how marks and words – in collaboration and counter-distinction – construct meaning differently. As John Berger has written, Twombly “visualises with living colours the silent space that exists between and around words”.

Although his work resonates strongly with generations of younger artists, ranging from Brice Marden to Richard Prince to Tacita Dean to Patti Smith, it has a general propensity to polarise its audience between perplexity and unbridled admiration. (Remember the incident in summer 2007 of a woman planting a lipstick kiss on a Twombly canvas on show in Lyon?) Additionally, the critical and historical reception has seemed to describe two Twomblys – one about form, the other about content.

Some writers have concentrated on the materiality of the artist’s mark as aggressive, often illegible graffiti; others have followed the classical allusions to ferret out the references. Two elements might serve as metaphors for the predominant interpretations: the floating disc of white paint labelled “clouds” standing for the poetic and mythological aspects, and the scatological heap of brown paint designating “earth”. However, Twombly’s painterly palimpsests trace the progressions through which form and content, text and image are inextricably linked.

Earth / Youth

Cy Twombly arrived in Manhattan in 1950 while the New York School painting of Pollock and de Kooning was in full swing. Upon Robert Rauschenberg’s encouragement, Twombly joined him for the 1951–1952 sessions at Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina – a liberal refuge, a site of free

experimentation and exchange in a nation growing increasingly conservative during the Cold War. Among the influential teachers present at this time were Charles Olson, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell and John Cage. Building on the freedom afforded by the previous generation, the younger artists emphasised libidinal energy integrated through experience.

They focused attention on calligraphic gesture and word/image relationships resulting in work that was more syncretic, less spontaneously automatist. Works such as Twombly’s Min-Oe (1951) bear evidence of the poet Olson’s interests in the roots of writing in ancient cultures and condensed glyphic forms.

For eight months spanning 1952–1953 Twombly and Rauschenberg travelled through Europe and north Africa, joined for a while by the writer Paul Bowles. Upon returning to New York, Rauschenberg set up the Fulton Street studio that Twombly sometimes shared. Eleanor Ward invited the two artists to exhibit at her Stable Gallery.

A series of Twombly’s works on light grounds dating to 1955 were given curious titles from a list collaboratively compiled by Twombly, Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns – Criticism, The Geeks, Academy. Here, pencil and crayon lines are inscribed into viscous light greyish brown paint. Among the anxious, discontinuous thickets, basic signs and letters begin to appear.

In 1957, having built a bridge of connections with Italian artists showing frequently at the Stable Gallery, Twombly left again for Italy, where he would remain for the most part, though making frequent trips, including many to the States. He established a studio in Rome overlooking the Colosseum and wrote a short statement for the Italian art journal L’Esperienza moderna, which was to remain the sole published reflection on his own work until 2000, when he was interviewed by David Sylvester. In the statement, Twombly describes his process: “Each line is now the actual experience with its own innate history. It does not illustrate – it is the sensation of its own realisation.”

Works from this era bear out the description. In Arcadia, for example, it is as though he taps into the nervous system, harnessing an alert state of tension, letting it come through in abrupt bursts at a level where it is generally inhibited by the body’s higher functions, registering its insistent throb in stuttering, jittery, whiplash lines. His move to Italy also afforded him ready access to the Mediterranean repository of classical ruin and reference. In works such as Olympia, words and names – “Roma”, “Amor” – emerge out of a network of marks.

In 1959 Twombly executed some of the most spare works of his career, among them the 24 drawings that comprise Poems to the Sea, done on the coast of Italy at Sperlonga. What order of poems, punctuated with numerals and question marks, are these? The sea is reduced to horizon line and word, scribblings and veils of paint against the stark white of paper. A persistent compulsion is invoked in the viewer, the desire to read what is there, but not fully manifest in the artist’s scrawled script. Two words in these drawings emerge into legibility, “time” and “Sappho”, as if washed up on the beach alongside sudden, subtle gem-flashes of colour – blue, orange-yellow, pink – gleaming all the more because of their discretion.

In these pages, meaning is endlessly frustrated and pursued. It settles only in the distance, figured perhaps by the horizon lines that move across the top of each of the drawings – in fact, simply grey or blue lines made with a straight edge, but suggesting seascapes at the vanishing point. The flat planes of sea and page have been collapsed. Writing comes in waves, rolling funnels of cursive script, crossed out, erased, enfoamed in satiny greyish-white paint. The signs are given as nascent forms, as gestural indications of “the hand’s becoming”, as Roland Barthes so aptly phrased it.

Flesh and Blood

In the autumn of 1960 Twombly had his first solo show at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. Moving into the 1960s, thick and florid colour comes into his work, along with multiple classical references. During the prolific summer of 1961, he reached a fever pitch, a colouristic crescendo in the Ferragosto paintings. A thickly encrusted palette of brown, pink and red takes on a viscerality paired in the work with a body parcelled into pictograms: pendulous breasts, erupting penises, scatological posteriors. From 1961 to 1963 mythological motifs appear with increasing insistence: Leda and the Swan, Venus, Apollo, Achilles. This line of investigation culminated in 1963 with a series of works called Nine Discourses on Commodus, an obscure portrait of the megalomaniacal Roman emperor conceived while Twombly was reading the French novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet and looking at the paintings of Francis Bacon. These works were shown at Castelli in 1964, to a New York art world which had by then turned to Pop and Minimalism.

Following this exhibition, Twombly’s American enthusiasm ebbed for a number of years. The situation was quite different in Europe, where his work remained a critical success. Nevertheless, the Commodus exhibition represents a crucial moment of rupture in the artist’s career, for, as he commented, it made him “the happiest painter around for a couple of years: no one gave a damn what I did”. Approaching the end of the 1960s, Twombly employed a monochrome grey ground.

In 1966 white writing in looped repetitive script appears on blackboard-like surfaces. The works, which continue into the early 1970s, resemble rudimentary handwriting tests, registering the muscular rhythms of the arm relaxing and tensing, and seem to eschew outside reference; but Leonardo da Vinci’s Deluge drawings and the Italian Futurists’ spatio-temporal explorations echo through them.


Beginning in 1975, Twombly had been working towards increasingly integrated combinations of text and image; of lines – both written and drawn – and colour. The repeated returns to the rich resources of classical mythology have remained the complications of his work. He employs myth as yet another form in conjunction with painting, drawing and writing. He sometimes suggests myth’s first seminal stirring, letting only hermetic fragments come to the surface as names from the past: Hero and Leander, Orpheus, Bacchus. At other times he offers a full-blown line or verse burdened with all of its cultural and poetic associations like a tree overripe with fruit. Roberto Calasso has written of the Greek myths: “All the powers of the cult of gods have migrated into a single, immobile and solitary act: that of reading.” Twombly’s caveat, however, would be that the gods’ powers lie not in a single act, but in the mobilisation of the space between reading and seeing.

We see this in works such as Venus and Apollo (both 1975). In Venus the name of the goddess is written out in a palimpsest of red lines with a blossom drawn in crimson oil stick beneath. She is attended by a pencil-drawn list of her various names (Nadyomene, Aphrodite, Nymphaea…) and of her associations (myrtle, poppy, apple, sparrow…). “Venus” is written out so as to emphasise the openness of the “V”, “N” and “U”. In the pendant drawing, “Apollo” is delineated in dark blue with a triangle, the Greek delta, serving as the first initial and doubling as a directional pointer upward. Like the delta, the two letters “o” of the name are closed forms, as against the five open letters of Venus. Apollo, too, is accompanied by a list of his many names and attributes (laurel, palm, tree, hawk, grasshopper…). In these drawings, no direct definition is provided (no goddess of love or god of measure), but rather a network of allusions given both word and form.

The Whitney Museum of American Art mounted a retrospective exhibition in 1979 intended to rectify Twombly’s relative absence on the American scene. Roland Barthes, upon the artist’s suggestion, wrote the catalogue essay, “The Wisdom of Art”. In his tendency to promote a proliferating, reference-laden and intricate web of text, Barthes met his match with Twombly, whose work he described as “inimitable”: “It is in a smear that we find the truth of redness; it is in a wobbly line that we find the truth of a pencil.” The exhibition made only a small splash, critiqued by some for being “too European”. Twombly was still in Rome and very much outside the dominant narratives of contemporary American art of the time.

The Green series, Untitled [A Painting in Nine Parts], is a sustained investigation of colour set in relation to Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry and Monet’s art. Clearly gesturing toward landscape painting, this work seems to be the most mimetic of Twombly’s oeuvre, yet it is also the most rawly material – suggesting the two primary paths taken in the decades to follow.

The green Untitled was executed in the spring of 1988 in Rome, the wood panels covered in quick-drying acrylic (for speed was of the essence in these shots of propulsive vernal energy). Part 1 functions like a title page: two lines from Rilke’s Moving Forward pencilled in Twombly’s cursive hand (“… and in the ponds broken off from the sky, my feeling sinks as if standing on fishes”) flutter down the plane of white. “Fishes”, written in shimmery silver-grey oil stick near the bottom of the panel, spans from edge to edge, even moving on to the white frame. Words read as though seen through rippling water. Rhythmic spurts of graphic attention create a visual analogue to the assonance of the words. The hesitations around the letter “s” swish like fish. In the other panels, words seem to be losing the battle with a superabundance of verdure. Groping finger streaks of deep emerald green have the look of sea grasses shimmying in shallow water.

Monet’s Water Lilies enter the frame of reference. The effect of spatial disorientation and the congested surfaces of these pond-panels suggest something of metaphorical drowning. The myth of Narcissus, in which identity is swallowed up by mirror reflection, lurks somewhere beneath these works.


In 1994 the Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston, Texas – designed by Renzo Piano from Twombly’s original conception – opened as a joint project between the Dia and Menil Foundations to house an extensive permanent collection of the painter’s work. That same year, the Museum of Modern Art in New York mounted a Twombly retrospective curated by Kirk Varnedoe. It met with success and marked a dramatic shift in his American reception. This was due largely to the curator’s mission of reinstating the artist’s grand themes into an individual poetics. Varnedoe essentially reads Twombly’s work as sublimation: “[Twombly] used the new art he created precisely to reforge, in a wholly different poetics of light and sexuality that was specific to his experience, the link between the heritage of the human past and the life of a personal psyche.”

Concurrent with the MoMA retrospective, Twombly exhibited his Untitled (Say Goodbye Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor) (1994) at the Gagosian Gallery in New York.The monumental piece measuring four by sixteen metres, a meditation on ageing and homecoming, offers an extraordinary array of types of mark, range of chromatic dynamics from the faintest stain of pale grey to outbursts of overripe wines and vibrant yellow-oranges, and a large body of associative references (to name only a few: Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, Keats, Catullus, Archilochus, Turner).

The painting is intended to be read from right to left, like a Chinese scroll, marking the direction of Twombly’s return over the Atlantic as it does the movement of soul boats crossing the Nile, the primary pictorial theme. The varied marks also weave a complex web of connections to myth, poetry, history, memory, conventions of painting and earlier moments in Twombly’s career.

Untitled was undertaken over a period of nearly 22 years, from 1972 to 1994. Just before it was about to be installed in the Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston, Twombly called Paul Winkler, then director of the Menil Collection; he had found a disused factory with enough wall space to hang the work in Lexington. The painting was rolled up and two Menil couriers were dispatched in an ice storm to deliver the work so that Twombly could rework it, yet again, before it was permanently hung. The anxiety around finishing this painting belies the artist’s thought expressed to Winkler, that it would be his last. It was not. He had been extremely prolific since 1994.

The Bacchus series from 2005, for example, with its rush of roseate pigment and whorls of gestural energy, shows an extra-ordinary exuberance.

© Claire Daigle

On the 5th July 2011, Cy Twombly died in hospital in Rome at the age of 83.

http://www.cytwombly.info/ )

Habitat – Tai Shan Schierenberg – Cartwright Hall, Bradford

Cartwright Hall Art Gallery | Bradford

Habitat – Tai-Shan Schierenberg

Habitat – Tai-Shan Schierenberg will incorporate both landscapes and portraits into this exhibition and residency, with specific views of the North of England, Yorkshire and Bradford.

Throughout our lives we encounter different environments.  Some leave a trace on our system, they change us and become internalised, a part of who we are and how we see the world. The dyptchs that Tai is exhibiting at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery are an attempt, in juxtaposing portraits and landscapes, to create a non-narrative relationship between people and spaces, and thereby evoke a sense of the inner landscape as well as provide an examination of the faces of the people changed by them.

Some of the relationships are genuine, in that the subject suggested the landscape that influenced them and should partner their portrait, other connections are inventions that rang true when put together.

Alongside Tai’s own paintings, will be oil paintings that Tai has selected from Bradford’s Fine Art Collection.

Schierenberg won 1st prize at the John Player Portrait Awards, National Portrait Gallery in 1989.  Commissions include The Queen, Duchess of Westminster, and most recently Stephen Hawkins.  He has artwork in the collections of the BBC; Chatsworth House, Granada Media Group, Queens University, Belfast, National Portrait Gallery and Tate Gallery.

Tai has been the recent judge on Sky Arts, Portrait of the Year television series.

In partnership with Flowers Gallery, London.