I’ll never forget the moment I first saw Bacchus, a series of three gigantic canvases in Tate Modern, by Cy Twombly who died in Rome this week.
Sounds a bit unbelievable, but I really did take a sharp intake of breath. Do the swirls and lines, in brushstrokes of vibrant read, represent blood, or wine, or both? The work made this viewer uncomfortable in the extreme but the room draws me in each time I visit the gallery.
It is pleasing to read in an obituary that Twombly’s innovative work had been recognised and celebrated during his lifetime.
The Dulwich Picture Gallery is currently showing an exhibition of his work called Twombly and Poussin: Arcadian Painters. Ian A C Dejardin, The Sackler Director at the Gallery, said: ‘Everyone at Dulwich Picture Gallery has been deeply saddened by the news of the death of Cy Twombly, barely a week after we had been celebrating the opening of the exhibition Twombly and Poussin: Arcadian Painters.
‘We were still hoping that he would be able to visit the show later in the summer; he had been involved at every stage of the show’s planning, working closely with Nicholas Cullinan, the exhibition’s curator. We are honoured to have been able to mount so beautiful a testimony to the importance of Twombly’s work. We hope he would have enjoyed seeing his deeply personal paintings, drawings and sculpture in such profound dialogue with the work of Nicolas Poussin, the artist of whom he said: “I would have liked to have been Poussin, if I’d had a choice, in another time.” We have lost an extraordinary artist – Et in Arcadia Ego.’