“Cy Twombly: The Sculpture”

Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart

“One must desire the ultimate essence even if it is ‘contaminated’” Cy Twombly proclaimed in a rare published statement; in 1957. The year is significant, for he had just begun a twenty-year leave from sculpture to focus on painting. This shift is mirrored in the aphorism itself, as it slides from “essence,” the territory of Twombly’s sculpture, to “contamination,” which has more to do with his painting. To put it another way, Twombly’s sculptures have the purity that his paintings always seem to defile.

Of course, that states the opposition too strongly. Twombly’s sculptures are frontal in their address, making pictures in the air. They often share the iconography of his paintings, as the artist’s 1994 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York made clear. And they incorporate the secondary hardware of painting—picture wire, eye screws, nails, framing strips, paint buckets,

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