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  • Cy Twombly


Wood, nails, canvas, white paint
27.56 inch x 26.38 inch x 14.17 inch
Leihgabe der Österreichischen Ludwig-Stiftung/On loan from the Austrian Ludwig Foundation, seit/since 2011
Inventory number: ÖL-Stg 435/0

At first glance the sculpture appears to be a provisional, experimental arrangment. A simple rectangle and a vertical slat serve as support for a trapezoid board which leans on the construction at an angle. Viewed from the front, the sculpture is like a simple picture in white that has been placed on a kind of easel. The privileged side view is opposite what is assumed to be the back and reveals a behind-the-scenes look at the construction.
The title, “Genetrix”, is a reference to the Roman goddess, Venus Genetrix, who was worshipped as the Romans’ progenetrix. Julius Caesar erected a temple to her in the Forum in Rome. As an allusion to the generating, productive power of the goddess of love, Twombly creates an illusory space out of the white emptiness of the picture surface. This becomes the site of almost imperceptible events: scorings, surface irregularities due to dust, finger prints alongside thickly-applied paint and paint which flowed in rivulets. In between one can sense the wood grain. Time and again Twombly leads the viewer back to the absolute zero of painting, to a point where a decision has to be made between the pure physical presence of the object and its illusionary potential. Philosopher Roland Barthes compared the apparently empty white surfaces of Twombly’s work with the airy lightness of the Mediterranean region: “Rooms with a southern aspect, warm and flooded with light, with individual elements that the mind wants to inhabit.”