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Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly: Making past present edited by Christine Kondoleon with Kate Nesin

April 2021, no. 430

If you were fortunate enough to take Franz Philipp’s course in Medieval and Renaissance Art at the University of Melbourne in the 1960s – the old Fine Arts B – you would have quickly encountered Erwin Panofsky’s masterpiece, Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art (1960). It set forth authoritatively the argument that from the Carolingian revival in the eighth century through the Ottonian and Romanesque survivals, culminating in the Italian Renaissance of the quattrocento and cinquecento, Western art was haunted by the spectre of antiquity. Admiration for its mighty surviving works throughout western Europe turned steadily towards emulating them.

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This week our subject is Cy Twombly, one of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century. A new major exhibition of his work, Cy Twombly: Making Past Present, organised by the MFA in Boston and the Getty Museum in LA, surveys Twombly's immense debt to antiquity. Patrick McCaughey reviews the related catalogue for our upcoming April issue. In this wide-ranging conversation with Peter Rose, he also talks about the plight of US museums during the pandemic, the vexed question of de-accessioning, and the diaries of Fred Williams, which he is currently editing.

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