The artist Cy Twombly died yesterday. I have a hard time putting into words the emotions I feel when someone I admired, but didn't know, dies. I don't want to be maudlin, but hearing the news did make my heart sink a little. Twombly's work was the first abstract art that I understood. Not in an academic, form, function, art historical context kind of way. The kind of way that I could look at one of his paintings and think to myself "yes." Does that sound mysterious and opaque? It's not meant to. I just mean that feeling you get when you finally "get" something and in return it seems to "get" you. I think his work is what finally convinced me I am an artist as opposed to a designer or an illustrator. Designers and illustrators are concerned with getting a message across, with communicating an idea, artists are concerned with breaking that idea down, with seeing how much they can get away with (not that there isn't some crossover between the disciplines of course). Twombly's work is so broken down it's just scribbles on a canvas, but can somehow remind you of poetry.
I remember the first time I saw his work in person. It was my foundation year at Parsons and it was the first time I went to the MoMA. His work was up in that big open space in the center of the museum. I just sat and looked at those paintings that were just scribbles, but so much more. At the time, I was doubting my decision to move to New York and go to art school because, frankly, New York and art school were kicking my ass. But sitting there I decided if I got to see work like this in person I might be able to put up with it. It was a moment of respite and clarity in a difficult time for me.
I don't mean to effuse (or maybe I do, I don't know) I just wanted to comment on the passing of a great artist and tell a little about the impact this man I never met had on my life.