Cy for Him

The reverence surrounding Twombly's sculpture exhibit at the Menil inspires little more than weariness

Much of the dialogue surrounding Twombly's work offers an example of what's wrong with the art world. Presenting art as something the average person could never hope to understand, as the enigmatic work of one touched with greatness, is a load of horseshit and perpetuates an elitism that ultimately undermines the cause of art. I don't know about Twombly per se, but most artists do not studiously read poetry in the morning and then spend the afternoon magically creating masterpieces in response to it. The interplay of influences is much more down-to-earth and integrated with life.

Random comments from other artists about the exhibition have ranged from unbridled enthusiasm to "Shows you just how boring sculpture can be" to "I like it, but really, if I brought this stuff to any gallery in town, no one would pay attention to it." Which brings up the intriguing issue of context. You can place the same object in a garage sale or in the display window at Neiman Marcus, and the context will dramatically alter the perceived "value" of the thing. The same thing happens with authorship. The Menil's luminous installation of Twombly's work shows it to tremendous advantage, and the artist's stature affords him the benefit of the doubt.

That the cult of Twombly gets in the way of his work may not be the artist's fault, but then again it may; he doesn't seem to do a lot to curb it. Regarding the sculpture, there are some strong pieces, but it ain't all gold. However much his fans may wish it, Cy isn't Midas. As for Twombly and the Menil, we wouldn't be surprised someday to see the artist's knucklebone installed in a Renzo Piano-designed reliquary. Or maybe even a Leninesque glass coffin right in the middle of the Cy Twombly Gallery/Mausoleum.

This untitled work was created at Bassano in Teverina. There, doesn't that help you understand it?
The Menil Collection
This untitled work was created at Bassano in Teverina. There, doesn't that help you understand it?


Through January 7 (713)525-9400
Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross

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