Cy Twombly's Mediterranean Passages

Thursday 13 October 2016, 18.00–19.30

To launch her book Reading Cy Twombly: Poetry in Paint (Princeton University Press, 2016), Mary Jacobus will explore the use of quotations in one of his major paintings.

The American painter Cy Twombly (1928–2011), who lived in Rome from the 1950s onward, often spoke of himself as a ‘Mediterranean’ painter. His vast tripartite canvas, Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the shores of Asia Minor, spans two decades and was finally completed to coincide with his 1994 MoMA retrospective.

Previously known as Unfinished Painting, it exemplifies Twombly’s use of quotation. Say Goodbye includes a palimpsest of passages drawn from Rilke, Cavafy, and Seferis, among others. At a distance, it appears empty. Close-up, it provides a literary archeology.

How much do we need to know about Twombly’s quotations and how do they affect the viewer’s experience of his work?