On view at Palais des Beaux-Arts is Cy Twombly: Photographs 1951-2010, featuring a series of 100 photographs selected by Twombly before his death in 2011. Known for his paintings that subtly changed the course of contemporary art, Twombly had been a productive photographer since his student days. However, it wasn’t until late in his career that photographs were exhibited to the public. Taken with an instant Polaroid camera, Twombly’s photographs are consistently out of focus, concentrating on the ethereality in mundane objects such as a pair of slippers, a lemon, a can of paintbrushes.
The photos allow for a nuanced understanding of his artistic practice, revealing intimate encounters with themes that nourished his work. Twombly captures historical relics of the ancient world, nature and landscape, intimate examinations of flowers, studio views, and ordinary objects. In contrast to his paintings that were often a violent opposition to form, the photographs are perhaps more painterly and affectionate.
Twombly became one of the most important figures of American post-war art, closely involved with Abstract Expressionism while at the same time subverting its values. He developed a gestural vocabulary blurring the lines between painting, drawing, and graffiti; marking surfaces with the loops and scrawls of wordless and later lyrical text.