From our special correspondent
It is a paper paradise haunted by poets, a suite of fertile leaves where flowers and trees grow, an Eden of freedom. At the Musée de Grenoble, nearly 80 drawings made between 1973 and 1977 by Cy Twombly (1928-2011) – many of which are unpublished on loan from his foundation – tell the story of this Arcadian parenthesis. The American was emerging from a dark period, marked by violent themes, then blackboards covered in compulsive chalk loops, when he began to abandon the canvas to return to the bare shine of paper. Living in Rome, surrounded by books, he first traces the name of Virgil in capitals, on a white background like an ancient stele. A way of summoning the imagination of the Bucolics and the Georgics, an extract of which is reproduced on the picture rails. Soon the artist chants the names of other poets in diptych sheets, similar to open books. In 1976 and 1978, two collections of prints will close this literary parenthesis.
During this decade, Twombly also found his childhood friend, Robert Rauschenberg, in Florida. He then borrows his practice of collage. Back in Italy, a portfolio springs from it, a Natural History, inspired by that of Pliny. Immersed like a shepherd in Italian nature, Twombly compiles mushrooms there, mixing images from encyclopedias and phallic scribbles.
Elsewhere, he assembles, like a herbarium, ficus leaves drawn on graph paper, pink like a woman’s genitals. In his ideal Arcadia, a liberated sexuality responds to the fruitful nature. Here is Narcissus, whose name seems to dissolve and turn blue in its own reflection. Then Orpheus, escorted by two strained lines like the strings of his lyre. Further on, Pan emerges from an earthy spot topped by two turgid leaves. The wild features of Bacchanales follow in homage to those of Poussin. Attentive like him to the seasons, Twombly also lists meteorological notations in two drawn calendars. Its leaves adorn themselves alternately with a rosy dawn, a puddle of mud or a stormy cloud. You can feel the wind, the rain, the cold of winter and the greenness of May. Little nothings, mixing stains and subtle iridescences, as close as possible to life.