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Reading, Scribbling, Copying: Cy Twombly and the Modern Greek Poets

Anthi-Danaé Spathoni, Athens School of Fine Arts

March 22, 2023 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 103 Scheide Caldwell

Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies

[Twombly’s] worktables are covered with oil crayons; pencils; tubes of pigment … art books … and a book of modern Greek poems in translation, turned to George Seferis’s “Three Secret Poems.” Several lines of one stanza have been altered by Twombly. … A section of the edited and spliced poem (with a few new words added by Twombly) is written on the canvas of Summer [Quattro Stagioni], in Twombly’s inimitable, childish scrawl.

Vogue magazine, 1994

In Cy Twombly’s studio, the painter faced the poet. Twombly filled his workspace in southern Italy with books on art and poetry, including numerous translations of George Seferis and C.P. Cavafy. Here, Twombly explored fertile intersections between his visual art and the poetry of Seferis and Cavafy, which the artist repeatedly used in pictorial and sculptural work in the early 1990s. These texts trace the painter’s “active” reading and treatment of poetic verse, which he transforms into pictorial motifs by transferring words to canvas. Through the study of Twombly’s reading of Seferis’ and Cavafy’s poetry, this paper examines the text-image and painting-poetry dialogue throughout the creative process of an influential artist from the New York school.

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