The latest epiphany/reading encounter was with Edmund White and his review of Nela Pavlouskova's new book on the late paintings of Cy Twombly (see the special Art Issue of The New York Times Book Review, June 28, 2015).
series. It is acrylic and crayon on wooden panel and measures 98 3/8 by 74 3/4 inches.
What captured me most in White's essay is his description of how he came to see Twombly's uniqueness and intelligence over time. Early on, he was skeptical, didn't quite "get" what all the art critical praise of Twombly was about. But then, later, White looks beyond the canvases and even beyond the studio to form his own positive judgment of the painter's work.
When I visited his house and studio years ago in the Italian seaside town of Gaeta,
north of Naples, I was immediately struck (and reassured) by his exquisite and highly
personal taste evidenced in every room and every garden. Perhaps it was easier for me
to grasp his sensibility in the plain but refined choices he made in his surroundings
than in his huge, faux-naive paintings.
(italics are Suzanne's)
For White, Twombly's distinctive approach to art is in his home and gardens, not only in his studio. In fact, it is what Twombly chooses and does in his home and gardens that shapes White's appreciation of his paintings in the studio.
I am drawn to this view of what the painter does and where he or she does it. It helps me understand why it is that no matter how special a working space my studio is to me, I find myself sometimes compelled to wander out of the studio to do my work. The most important thing becomes to redo a flower bed, move around some furniture, or even plan a special menu for guests. Just like the edges of a canvas can rein in and constrict the painting the painter wants to paint, the walls of the studio sometimes need to be pushed open to make art happen. What happens outside the studio enables and supports what goes on in the studio. White shows that the important link between inside and outside the studio holds for both the painter and those who come to visit.