In his biography Chalk, Joshua Rivkin includes a Cy Twombly story he heard in Lexington, Virginia, where the artist spent much of his later years:
One night the artist came over for dinner and after they sat together on the front porch of the house as lightning bugs flashed under a canopy of sycamores. The host’s small child, three or four years old, came out to the porch to say goodnight to all. The father gathered his son in his arms and took him upstairs, his bedroom just above the porch, and tucked him into bed. When he returned to his drink and their conversation, Twombly pointed up to the boy’s bedroom and said, of his own son, of Alessandro, “I don’t know where he slept.”
This anecdote came to mind when I saw this haunting 1965 photo of a young Alessandro, because at least Twombly knew where the kid sat.
The photo, published at a date I can’t determine, in an apparent edition of five, was included in the Pompidou’s Twombly retrospective in 2016. Another, smaller version of the scene, which crops out the dark hallway entirely, was also included. It was apparently an edition of six. Florence Briat Soulié photographed it for her lyrical review of the exhibition. Alessandro has extricated his arm from the chairback, and has one leg up on the seat, but he maintains his gaze into the unlit hallway of the palazzo, where his father was snapping away.
The photos, and the setting, and the timing, immediately call to mind Horst P. Horst’s iconic Vogue photoshoot of la Famiglia Franchetti-Twombly. Except nothing so plain as that Thonet chair is to be found in Horst’s images. And neither is that fluted column. That bust of Nero, and the simple diamond patterned floor do appear, though, along with Twombly’s Richter leaning against a steel shelf.
Those locks, those umbrellas, it looks like the ingresso. But that floor and that doorway don’t match, and there’s no steps. And that bust sure moves around. And it looks slightly less like Trump in the light.
I sat on these photos and this post for a couple of months, ngl, wondering if I wanted to deal with the possible blowback that might arise from the Fondazione Nicola del Roscio’s assertion of copyright over these and all of Twombly’s photos. Part of me wanted to just make a point by linking to them only on pinterest.
Buy Joshua Rivkin’s Chalk: The Art and Erasure of Cy Twombly from Amazon [amazon bookshop.org]
Cy Twombly Rip
Cy Twombly’s Gerhard Richter