new-york

Cy Twombly

Castelli Gallery

The current wave of New Realist painting makes me appreciate Cy Twombly’s “blackboard” pictures more and more, especially the most abstract ones. Who since Jasper Johns has made such a resourceful choice of an image, except perhaps Ron Davis?

The illusionism in the blackboards is, so to speak, literal rather than pictorial; it is applied to the presentation the painting makes of itself, not just to something the painting can be seen to contain. In these pictures illusionism envelops the painting itself in almost a trompe l’oeil fashion with the result that the painting is set at a peculiar remove from the spectator. As with Johns’ flag paintings, I take that remove to represent the distance implied by the application of critical concepts to the experience of paintings. Twombly’s blackboard is not an image in the same sense that Johns’ flush flag is not an image; in both cases the tension

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