Twombly's photographs

Walking around this posthumous show at Gagosian it was not clear to me whether Twombly’s photographic work was contiguous with the paintings - the product of reflection or studio ‘down time’ - or just a tasteful afterthought. Are they integral to the process or just expensive souvenirs? There is unfortunately no clue to their genesis in the catalogue (itself an expensive souvenir).


Uniformly presented on the gallery walls as luxury tokens, it is hard to differentiate those which simply revisit his paintings and sculptures by other means from those which fleetingly reveal the eye behind the camera: perhaps most strikingly so in the less obviously designed and more humble shots of trees in Lexington (above), where the eyes of the old artist simply register dark shapes of foliage drifting in pale skies. They appear as fragments in the drift of days, in which his (and our own) judgement abates. To call them ‘thing-poems’ (in a Keatsian vein), as Edmund De Waal does in the catalogue essay, is to give them a weight and substance they do not obviously possess; if these blurred and ghosted images persist in memory it is because they carry the trace of an unmediated eye at work.

Cy Twombly Photographs, Gagosian Gallery London, 6 -29 September 2012