Friday, July 8, 2011

Studio Visit: Cy Twombly's Scribbles

Did you know that scribbles can be "art?" What are scribbles? 

They are the marks you make when you move a crayon very fast, making marks that seem to be going every which way. Scribbles can be dark and heavy, or light and delicate. Sometimes you can scribble over scribbles, scribble with a pencil over paint, scribble with a crayon over pencil, scribble with color over color. 

Mr. Twombly is a master scribbler. His scribbles seem almost magical. They always surprise you. In his early paintings, Mr. Twombly painted panels white and then scribbled on them with crayons and pencils, making thin scribbley lines. Sometimes he painted smeary spots of color with his fingers. Sometimes he scribbled thin lines that looked like alphabet letters. Sometimes he scratched scribbles into the paint. Sometimes he scribbled with white chalk. 

His New York art studio was located near the studios of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. They all became close friends in the 1950's when they began showing their work in the Manhattan art galleries. 

Then, in 1957, Mr. Twombly moved to Italy. There, he developed his art in the quiet of the Italian countryside. His scribbles and scrawls showed his interest in history, in heroic Greek stories, like the peach-colored "School of Athens," with its splotches of red, and skinny little pencil lines. 

Some of Mr. Twombly's paintings began to look like giant blackboards, with grey backgrounds and white chalky-looking marks on the surface.

Later on, Mr Twombly's paintings became more colorful. Sometimes his scribbles looked like flowers. 

Sometimes the brush strokes remembered they were scribbles, and they became large and powerful.

Sometimes they became as big as a wall.

Mr Twombly created some of the most beautiful paintings of our time.

What will you do with your scribbles today? Will you make chalk scribbles on black paper? Will you dip a big brush in wet paint and make some big juicy swirls? Will you choose a bright pointed marker and cover a page with delicate scribbles? Today, you are the artist. 

Here is a link to the Gagosian Gallery, the dealer for Cy Twombly. 

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