Twombly & the School of Fontainebleau, Berlin

By Emmy Lee | Posted on July 14th, 2012

I always like learning about artist’s influences. No one creates in a void and it’s fascinating to know what books, music, films, pop culture and art played a part in an artist’s creative process, no matter how ephemeral. An exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, called explores just that in the pairing of the New York School artist with artists of the School of Fontainebleau, a style developed in the mid-1500s in France. Although the Mannerist movement developed in France, it’s principal proponents were two Italians – Rosso Riorentino and Francesco Primaticcio who were hired to decorate the Palace of Fontainebleau and oversaw its paintings, frescos, tapestries and sculptures, often infusing their creations with mythological or allegorical scenes. Twombly, known for his monumental, gestural, calligraphic and abstracted paintings was born in Lextington in 1928 but by 1960 had moved to Italy where he was inspired by that which he saw around him, namely historical painting. Although his paintings may obfuscate any immediate visible reference, he was known to make work based on classical sources such as the myths of Leda and the Swan and the Birth of Venus; it also included small figurative references, numbers, text and quotations so reading his work only within the context of his peers like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns is limiting. In fact, this isn’t the first exhibition to explore Twombly’s historical influences. Less than a week before there artist’s death in 2011, Twombly and Poussin: Arcadian Painters opened at the Dulwich Picture Gallery outside of London.

Nicolas Poussin, a study for The Conversion of St. Paul, 1657


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