Wen Tao reviews two exhibitions of works by Cy Twombly: In Beauty It Is Finished: Drawings 1951-2008 (through April 25) and Coronation of Sesostris (through April 28). The former is on view at Gagosian, 980 Madison Avenue New York and the latter at Gagosian, 522 West 21st Street, New York.
Tao writes: “Image and text in Twombly’s oeuvre are never subservient, one to the other, as mere flourish or illustration. But the viewer often encounters a disorienting, almost vertiginous split between modes of reading and of seeing. Verbal meaning of the script and visceral sensation of the paint—the soaring barges’ dripping flames and Sappho’s lamentations—alternate in focus, hinging upon each other as they dance their tango. Text tunnels through materiality to treasure troves of cultural evocations, while paint hints beyond what can be verbalized.”