Seeing Cy Twombly Naked

Actually, when I saw Cy Twombly, he wasn't naked, and neither was I. I'd gone to Houston for work, right after graduating from college, and I had an extra day, so I set out to find this Rothko Chapel I'd heard about. No luck, or maybe it's that low-slung grey clapboard building. With the blackboard Twombly in the lobby. Holy moley, what is this place?

It was, of course, the Menil Collection, and while I was standing in front of one of my favorite paintings, a tall, elderly man came around the corner from behind it and stood there, too. I looked at him, then at the painting, then back. "Excuse me, are you Cy Twombly?" "Yes I am." I babbled something---I was obviously clueless but well-meaning--and he was gracious, then he left.

I later learned he had come to do an interview for the exhibition catalogue of "Rauschenberg: The Early 1950's," a tremendous show which was organized by Walter Hopps at the Menil, and which traveled to the Guggenheim. (Remember when the Guggenheim used to have good shows?)

I was reminded of this incident by the article in the Times about the panoply of Twombly shows in Houston at the moment. The artist told of a Menil guard who came upon a French woman standing naked and transfixed in front of a large Twombly canvas.

A Celebratory Splash for an Enigmatic Figure [nyt]
Buy Hopps's 1991 Rauschenberg: The Early 1950s catalogue for --sheesh, $255?? [it's that and more--up to $400 on abebooks]

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: June 4, 2005.

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