Remembering Cy Twombly and Lucian Freud

The world lost two important artists this month, Cy Twombly and Lucian Freud. While their work couldn't be more different, they both will represent our time in the narrative of art.

Venus by Cy Twombly

Self-portrait by Lucian Freud

It was Cy Twombly's retrospective in Vienna that attracted me to his work for the first time. When I had seen his works in the past individually, a piece here, a piece there, it was easy for me to pass them by, to see his works as "too quick", too simply scribbled. I had missed that what he was doing was forming a vocabulary of marks, a visual poetry, his own calligraphy, creating his own "romantic symbolism". At the MUMOK, his retrospective was titled "Sensations of the Moment." Seen together, the scrawled texts, paint, and drawn scribbles appeared to me as immediate, sensual responses to nature, beauty, and love.

Wilder Shores of Love by Cy Twombly

Lucian Freud was my favorite contemporary artist. He brought psychological and textural depth to portraiture. I first learned about him when I was an undergrad at Carnegie Mellon, during an incredibly enriching independent study on contemporary portraiture with Dr. Elaine King. Freud's paintings appealed to me visually, their thick paint becoming flesh in a way that felt real without being photorealistic, but in a way that let you feel the sitter was actually there before the artist's eyes, breathing.

Sleeping Head by Lucian Freud