July 06, 2011

Cy Twombly Dies at 83

Cy Twombly, Cancer, Rome.  Why these three and why they matter to me.


I learned three things today:

  1. Cy Twombly died.
  2. He had cancer.
  3. He lived in Rome.

Why these three and why do they matter to me?

First, I think Cy Twombly is one of the most amazing painters of our time.  There was something about his ability to elicit emotions with his work that was pretty incredible given the level of abstraction.

I remember the last room of his work at the MOMA retrospective back in 1994.  There were four “chalkboard” type paintings, each titled with one of the four seasons.  They brought tears to my eyes.  How he was able to capture each of the seasons (and he truly did) in his abstract work was amazing.  I get the chills just remembering those four paintings in that room.

And the scale of his pieces were pretty bold.  There was a child-like enthusiasm in the mark-making, yet an academic’s approach and eye.

Second, cancer.  Why does it seem that we are loosing so many great minds to this disease?  What is going on in the world that cancer continues to dominate and take so many?  Is it the environment; is it something in our food supply?  The number of cancer deaths continues to astound me.  (More on my own family story of cancer here.)

Three, Rome. I had no idea that Cy Twombly lived in Rome.  It really pleased me to learn this.  

Rome is a magical place for me.  The first city in Europe I ever visited, the first city (make that the only) in which I continuously studied the art and architecture for over 4 weeks without having to worry about attending classes or going to work.  Looking back, it is probably the one place that I truly got to explore in detail: the food, the architecture, the art, the churches, the culture, the gelato (a category of it’s own- don’t even try to put it in the food group!).

So, to all those touched by Cy Twombly, by cancer, or by Rome-  my take away:

Cy Twombly:  Just enjoy.  Don’t over analyze, don’t try to figure out what it means.  Just stand before the works and see the beauty, let them touch you deeply.

Cancer:  Live life fully in some way each day.  Have compassion for those battling any illness or disease.  Show some act of kindness today to someone currently living with cancer.

Rome:  Find a place that inspires you.  Visit it and try to take part of it with you.  As with Cy Twombly's work, don’t try to figure it out too much, just live it, and enjoy it.  And by all means, go back again to explore it with fresh perspective 23 years later.  Like I did.

A votre sante.



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