Our apologies for the technology issues that have kept me from posting and that have kept many of you accessing MAN in the last week or so — and especially yesterday. We should be back to normal. Thanks much.
The best thing I read this past weekend — heck, in many weekends — was this essay by Philip Kennicott in the Washington Post. It smartly holds art museums to account for their institutional squeamishness with artists who are gay and art that addresses homosexuality. It is an absolute must-read.
The combination of Kennicott’s piece and Cy Twombly’s death on Tuesday reminded me of the critical and journalistic response to Robert Rauschenberg’s death in 2008: As I noted here on MAN, almost every major newspaper and magazine in America was unwilling to say that Rauschenberg was a pioneer in what was becoming known as gay liberation. While Kennicott writes of hetero-normalizing in art museums, it’s there in journalism about art too.
Several readers emailed me to ask if Twombly was hetero-normalized too. Yes and no. Rauschenberg’s art, which often included or addressed his biography and his sexual orientation, positioned him on the vanguard of gay lib. Twombly’s not so much. I don’t think the two situations are completely analogous.
- In the Guardian, Jonathan Jones calls Twombly “an artist who can teach you to read.”
- In the NYT, Randy Kennedy’s obit describes Twombly’s work as “skittery bathroom-graffiti-scrawl.” Roberta Smith wrote this appreciation, wonderfully full of references to actual art.
- Jerry Saltz writes that Twombly’s “art gave me my first true abstract representation of sex, allowing me, as Patti Smith said of the Rolling Stones, to begin ‘thinking between my legs.’” (Wow.)
- In the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Randy Hallman emphasizes Cy Twombly’s lifelong relationship with his home state of Virginia.
- Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker.
- Suzanne Muchnic wrote the LAT obit.
- Sebastian Smee in the Boston Globe.