Entries in hand writing (10)
The original pages appear to have been trimmed and pasted onto larger sheets and bound into a book. Slow composition, time to smooth out thoughts and ideas. Do ideas come to us more quickly because we can now type more quickly? or is writing with a straight pen a form of editing as you go.
Why do I turn so often to images of handwriting? Perhaps because it is a form of drawing, mark-making, with its own rhythms based in the hand, the arm and the body; the hand, the pen and the ink; the brain, the hand, the words.
Kenji Nakayama, mechanical engineer, shoe designer, artist based in Boston, here. Detailing and lettering of great exuberance.
And below, a vimeo trailer for a well-discussed film on American sign painters. For something so fundamental to the look of America, the painters are a near outlaw lot. Well, maybe that is the point. Lose the signwriters and lose that nostalgic, hand-made quality that used to characterise the States, but increasingly ceases to do so.
A dandy piece by Rosalind Krauss on reading, or not reading, Twombly. It was written for Artforum in 1994 about the catalogue raisonne of Twombly's works, overseen by Heiner Bastian. Krauss writes about the various projects that assign meaning to Twombly's paintings from those who take the classical references, such as Virgil scrawled across a canvas, as evidence of Twombly's classical humanism and a deep reading of the deep past, to Barthes, who throws all that out and speaks against analogy in Twombly's mark making, where 'Virgil' is a citation running against any sort of classical reference, and is instead a position, modern, cultural, irresponsible.
Krauss writes instead about graffiti — 'performative, suspending representation in favour of action', which is what Action Painting wanted: all emotion and gesture. She writes that 'graffiti's character is the strike against form, ensuring a field in which the only way the image of the body can survive is a part-object, a concatenation of obscene emblemata...' There are marks, but they aren't symbols, ciphers or citations, rather they are fragments that protest the self-reflexivity of his Abstract Expressionist peer group, Pollock, de Kooning and Motherwell.
Twombly has a writing hand. The work from the 1950s, yesterday's Poems to the Sea, is perhaps a protest against the vigorous, obliterating masculinity of Motherwell, but it became how he made his marks. By time he had appointed Bastian to assemble essays for the catalogue raisonne, the summary of an artist's life, he quite liked the idea that he was a channel to Apollo and Dionysus. One might, towards the end of one's career find it more noble than being a thirty-year old artist working through artistic differences with one's friends in New York.
Rosalind Krauss, always true to the work, restates the critic's responsibility to make an independent reading. I love her for this.
I looked up Sesostris, whose coronation we are presented with, above, and found this sculpture, below.
I would say that in Twombly's Sesostris we are looking at a crown. A fragment of a sculpture. Sesostris III has departed.
Rosalind Krauss. 'Cy was here; Cy's up'. Artforum International Magazine, September 1994
Language is always an abbreviation.
John Berger, 'Post-Scriptum'. Audible Silence: Cy Twombly at Daros. Exhibition catalogue, Loewenbraeu-Areal in Zurich, 2002
Andrew Piper's essay 'Media and Metamorphosis: on notes and books' in the new everyday, a media commons project talks about the notes made by writers as they organise a novel, or a poem cycle – anything complex that moves from idea to what is eventually published. The fact that marginalia is a genre, that the notes themselves are a significant narrative, changes the way one thinks of the book. It isn't just the narrative between two covers, but a book is just one piece of a much larger story that occurs in many forms, not least the act of writing itself.
Nabokov's list, above, of synonyms for removing something has one phrase completely scribbled out as if it offended him. This isn't a list of possibles, a to-do list, rather it is a list of rejections. Above all, it takes the words that moil around in the brain and makes them visual. And once they are visual, they can be considered.
Goethe's list of keywords, the framework for Novella, is a map, with each country crossed off as he passed through it.
on lists: the Cy Twombly website is very generous. It has all his work from 1951 to 2010 in 5-year periods. If one is feeling desperate, one could do worse than to pick a year and look at all the drawings and paintings he did that year. And then some other time, look at a completely different year. I've always thought his work was about handwriting. The drawings seem to be full of written instructions for how to see.
The Menil Centre in Houston has a pavilion dedicated to Twombly, solid, but it feels inside like a white canvas tent so the light is pale and completely diffuse. On the Menil website it doesn't look at all as I remember it: I remember paintings the size of the walls in quite small spaces. They were wonderful.
Some work makes me very hopeful.