Cy Twombly, Natural History, Part 1, Mushrooms, (1974)
This is one of two portfolios made in the mid 1970s, the other being Natural History Part II (Some Trees of Italy) 1976. In both of these series, Twombly uses a quasi-scientific presentation with his characteristic expressive, gestural graphic language.
Twombly, like Rauschenberg with his collage prints, was a master of this kind of aleatoric-seeming collage, loose and dispersed but nonetheless composed. The intelligible and authentic science being practiced here is the testing of graphic structure itself - testing whether, in the end, it isn’t a matter of sensitivity. Might not structure be so permissive and flexible a thing that even the chaotic, at infinite distance, has a shiver of logic? Like John Cage (who Twombly might have picked up the fascination with mushrooms from), Twombly seems to have realized how easy art can be once you stop struggling with it!
He wrote me: coming back through the Chiba coast I thought of Shonagon’s list, of all those signs one has only to name to quicken the heart, just name. To us, a sun is not quite a sun unless it’s radiant, and a spring not quite a spring unless it is limpid. Here to place adjectives would be so rude as leaving price tags on purchases. Japanese poetry never modifies. There is a way of saying boat, rock, mist, frog, crow, hail, heron, chrysanthemum, that includes them all. Newspapers have been filled recently with the story of a man from Nagoya. The woman he loved died last year and he drowned himself in work—Japanese style—like a madman. It seems he even made an important discovery in electronics. And then in the month of May he killed himself. They say he could not stand hearing the word ‘Spring.’ [Chris Marker, Sans Soleil]
Cy Twonbly, Cold Stream Rome (1966)
Cy Twombly, Five Poems to the Sea (1959)
Cy Twombly and his wife in their home in Rome, Italy, 1966. Photographs by Horst P. Horst. They appeared in Vogue’s Book of Houses, Gardens, People published in 1968. via Habitually Chic
Cy Twombly’s workspace photographed by David Seidner