Venetian Memories of Cy Twombly {The Coronation of Sesostris at the Palazzo Grassi}

07/07/2011 § Leave a comment

Cy Twombly, taken in 1958 by David Lees.  Image via Time Life.

American artist Cy Twombly passed away Tuesday, July 5 in Rome at the age of 83.  For me, his art has always had an irresistible magnetism.  Primal and chaotic, symbolic and mysterious, there is something about Twombly’s body of work that immediately exhilarates me but simultaneously knocks me off-kilter.  I love it.  Currently there is an outpouring of remembrances and many obituaries have been written, so I don’t feel the need to launch into a report on his life.  I will leave that to others.  What I did want to share was my most memorable Twombly experience, viewing his Coronation of Sesostris (2000) at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.

Image via Palazzo Grassi.

The stately Palazzo, completed during the second half of the eighteenth century, is located on the Grand Canal and currently houses the personal art collection of François Pinault (aka #77 on the Forbes List of World Billionaires, luxury goods tycoon robber-baron, and father to Francois-Henri who is a rather effective impregnator of fabulous ladies).  It is truly an amazing setting to view Pinault’s excellent and growing collection of contemporary (post-war) art.  I especially appreciate Koons’ Balloon Dog floating in the canal.

Twombly’s Coronation of Sesostris (2000) is an epic, ten part, mixed media work that was installed at the Palazzo in 2006.  The panels chart the coronation procession of Sesotris, “one of the cruellest of Egypt’s pharaohs, the conqueror of Nubia and architect of the unification of the lands of Egypt into a single kingdom” (via PG)  Thought by many to be his strongest work in years at the time it was produced, Twombly’s Coronation panels are

 “…magnificently colored, flirt with ethereal degrees of unfinishedness, and are at once luxurious and rotting, full of life and funereal. Coronation of Sesostris echoes some of the erotic tenor and violence of the early work, though in the mournful minor keys of yearning and homesickness. Bursts of scarlet that once read as hands thrown up in rapture, or bloodstains, now feel like flowers or heartbeats; convulsive, surging rhythm has turned beautifully, excruciatingly protracted; love, loss, melancholy and memory have taken the place of real sex.”  – Jerry Saltz (full article available via Artnet)

In the Palazzo, the large panels are positioned in a single room for maximum impact.  Wandering among them, I was amazed by how vividly I saw the arc of this storyline of a single blazing day in Egypt and how viscerally I responded to the colors and the words Twombly utilized.  It was easily my favorite work within the entire museum.  I have included the panels below so that you might glean a sense of them, but I absolutely urge you to take the time if you are in Venice to see them in person at the Palazzo.  While I am sad that Twombly has passed, I was pleased to reacquaint myself with an amazing work of art and of my treasured memories of Venice.

Coronation of Sesostris (2000) by Cy Twombly
All images below via Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly: April 25, 1928 – July 5, 2011

Advertisements

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Venetian Memories of Cy Twombly {The Coronation of Sesostris at the Palazzo Grassi} at Quite Continental.

meta

%d bloggers like this: