Cy Twombly

Whitechapel Art Gallery / Anthony D'Offay

Cy Twombly’s marks carry, with consummate elegance, all of the density required to strike a balance between gesture and representational element, graphic component and communicative sign. They reach back to Surrealism and automatic writing, and to the desire for a kind of presocial Ur-language. Striving for something that is beyond the deadening prescriptions of our particular culture, they nevertheless derive their potency as art from his very close reading of the nuances of contemporary style. Twombly’s works are, in every sense, stylish.

The retrospective exhibition that came to the Whitechapel Art Gallery (a traveling show, organized by the Kunsthaus, Zurich, in collaboration with the gallery) clearly indicates how Twombly’s use of the graphic and painterly mark has developed over the years since his first trip to Europe with Robert Rauschenberg in 1951. The early wet, white grounds,

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