Cy Twombly: Miramare -- By the sea, Gaeta 2005

Good news. Now that the Avignon Festival has wound up, you can find a parking space in Avignon. More good news. The fabulous survey of 20th century photograghs: “Le Temps Retrouvé, Cy Twombly Photographs and Invited Artists,” runs until October 2 at the contemporary art museum of the Collection Lambert.

A giant in the world contemporary art, Cy Twombly, a Virginia native who passed away in July of this year in Rome, forged a brilliant creative arc illuminated by his large-scale calligraphic paintings – at times which mimicked scribbling and graffiti. Twombly immersed himself in the themes and debates — abstraction/ figurative, primitive/modern, psychoanalytical, etc — of his time.

Cy Twombly: Unfinished Paintings, Gaeta, 2006

For a 1994 retrospective of his work at MOMA in New York, the late curator Kirk Varnedoe wrote that Twombly is “influential among artists, discomfiting to many critics and truculently difficult not just for a broad public, but for sophisticated initiates of postwar art as well.”

Cy Twombly: Flowers I, Gaeta 2005

In the mid-1950’s, Cy Twombly achieved artistic prominence in New York where he shared a studio with Robert Rauschenberg. He moved to Gaeta, a seaside town north of Naples, Italy, in 1957.

The art collector Yvon Lambert was one of the first to exhibit Cy Twombly’s works at the beginning of the 1970’s. The Collection Lambert possesses more than forty works of his paintings and works on paper from 1959 – 2011, the largest collection devoted to Twombly in France.

It was during a visit to Gaeta by Eric Mézil, the director of the Collection Lambert, in May 2010 that Cy Twombly suggested exhibiting his photographs, which were yet to be shown in France, along with those of other artists in Avignon.

Before reaching the seven rooms of photographs of Cy Twombly, there is an immense treasure of images and installations from artists listed below. Taking time to brief yourself with the exhibit brochure as you take the sinuous path from room to room, this excursion begs for an intermission. A careful inspection consumes two hours.

Sally Mann: Eva Alive, 1998

One room is devoted to the photographs of Sally Mann (on loan from the Gagosian gallery), a native Virginian and close friend of Cy Twombly who greatly admired her work. Another room features the images of Diane Arbus. Light splashes in from window wall onto a  Sol LeWitt wall painting of bright stripes, the last one he completed in France. And on it goes.

Diane Arbus: Girl in a Shiny Dress, 1967

What grips you is the beauty marked by the passage of time. In “On Photography,” Susan Sontag wrote that photographs are an  “inventory of mortality.” They “state the innocence, the vulnerability of lives heading toward their own destruction, and this link between photography and death haunts all photographs of people.”


Cy Twombley: Robert Rauschenberg, Tétouan, Morocco, 1952

“Le Temps Retrouvé” Photographs of Cy Twombley and invited artists. Open everyday in August from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Closes at 6:00 p.m. on Mondays in Sept. and Oct. Runs until Oct. 2, Collection Lambert, 5, rue Violette, Avignon, 7€, tel: 04 90 16 56 20 website

Artists: Cy Twombley, Diane Arbus, Miquel Barcelo, Emile Bernard, Charles Bodmer, Pierre Bonnard, Constantin Bracusi, Jacques-Ernest Bulloz, Julia Margaret Cameron, Etienne Carjat, David Claerbout, Edgar Degas, Maurice Denis, E. Frueler, Gisele Freund, le Baron Wilhelm von Goeden, Douglas Gordon, Jaques-Henri Lartigue, Louise Lawler, Sol LeWitt, Sally Mann, Eadweard Muybridge, Victor Pannelier, Man Ray, Auguste Rodin, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, Edward J. Steichen, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Carl Van Vechten, Edouard Vuillard.

METropolitan Restaurant: Located in the courtyard of the Collection Lambert, open daily. Cuisine bistrot at reasonable prices. Website

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