When I was growing up, my babysitter was Cy Twombly. Well, it was Fifty Days at Iliam, a collection of Twombly painings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Like any good Philadelphian, we were (and still are) card carrying members and every weekend, we would walk around the collections. At some point, I convinced my parents to let me run free at the Sol Le Wit hallway so I could run to Iliam and hang out with Cy. Ten oversized white canvases paintings that critics once claimed were covered in scribble were visual books for me. I spent hours “reading” them, listening to them, being with them.
I was, and still remain, obsessed with his color and the overall heavy-handedness of every single mark Twombly made. As I grew up, I was always in search of Cy, and found my kind of meditation in Houston, Texas at the Twombly Gallery of the Menil Collection, probably one of Houston’s best secrets.
The Renzo Piano-designed building is devoted entirely to Twombly’s paintings and sculptures, all of which are bombastic and invigorating, embracing and inspiring. (For the record, I am not inspired at all by his sculptures). The Twombly Gallery is a constant reminder for me that no only does size matter, it’s all about how you wield the proverbial brush.
Cy Twombly passed away in Rome on Tuesday, July 5, 2011. I lived in his neighborhood and I regret that I never had the chance to meet him, no matter how hard I tried. Anyone who may have met me in the fall of 2003 or 2004 may remember my fanatic dog strolls around the Via Monserrato, Via dei Banchi Vecchi and Via Giulia area as I casually attempted to bump into Cy Twombly.
What would I have done had I met him? Giggled like a fan girl? Probably. Mumbled some inane sentences about inspiration, aggression and process? Definitely. Thanked him for the being the best babysitter a girl could want? Hell, yes.
Thank you, Cy Twombly. I am honored to know know. I’d love to kiss your paintings like Sam Rindy. For those who don’t “get it”, don’t worry. For those who do or want to, enjoy the Menil Collection’s How to Hang a Twombly.
WHERE TO FIND CONTEMPORARY ART IN ROME