Cy Twombly ‘Quattro Stagioni: Inverno’

Cy Twombly 'Quattro Stagioni: Inverno'

‘Quattro Stagioni: Inverno’ is one of the paintings in a series of four, each representing a season. Throughout Cy Twombly’s career, he has explored the passage of time and the four seasons, comparing them to the life cycle. This exploration is the basis for the four paintings in this series. ‘Quattro Stagioni: Inverno’ describes the cold, iciness of Winter.

Twombly’s signature gestural painting style is very much a key part of this painting. He uses movement and sensuality to create a sense of violent energy. By looking at the painting you get very much the sense that Twombly was not particularly precious with his paintings, making them look emotionally driven.

Layering is used in this painting to give it a sense of depth and to help describe the bleak cold of Winter. He begins by layering thing, cream gesso then layers of thin white acrylic. Underneath some of the layers of white acrylic there are a series of words and letters. This is a reference to the other paintings in the series, and also to his previous work as Twombly was well known for appropriating literature and classic paintings into something more visceral and tangible. An example of this is the heavy use of the colour white, a throwback to the work of French impressionists such as Claude Monet who used the colour white to represent light. As Twombly used his memories of the Mediterranean to influence his paintings, the use of yellow is brought in to describe the brilliance of the Mediterranean light. Yellow is a bold, unforgiving colour which is offset in the painting by the graphic use of the colour black. The horizontal lines of the black, created through gestural brush strokes and Twombly’s finger marks, and the vertical lines created by the dripping, white acrylic create a movement in the painting. The horizontal and vertical lines of black create ‘boat’ shapes in places, which can also be seen in two of the other paintings in the series. These boat shapes travel along up the painting. The black in the bottom left of the painting looks like pine branches having been in the harsh rain of the winter. In order to soften the mood of the painting, blobs of yellow have been painted then layered over with white, which describes the icy blanket left by ice in the Winter.

The reason this painting stands out to me so much is due to the use of the bold yellow alongside the monochromatic scheme of the painting. I love the conjunction of the scrawling writing layered with gestural, visceral layers of paint. In omparing them to the life cycle. This exploration is the basis for the four paintings in this series. ‘Quattro Stagioni: Inverno’ we see how Twombly refuses to be precious, instead layering up his painting to create something with various layers of depth and interest which pulls in the viewer of the painting. The use of stubbing and painting with the hands is completely enthralling to me, as it is something that I also enjoy doing.


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