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Quattro Stagioni celebrates the annual cycle of spring, summer, autumn and winter, and Twombly’s use of the four seasons to evoke the natural rhythms of death and rebirth is common in classical poetry and painting. Twombly uses strong colours to suggest the brilliant Mediterranean light and the essence of the different seasons, from vivid red and yellow in spring to deep greens and purples in autumn, combining these smears and drips of paint with scrawled poetic fragments, reminiscent of ancient graffiti, from several sources. While the lush, tactile qualities of the paint evoke bodily sensations, the poetry grounds these feelings in the broader context of classical culture. The curved forms that are visible in Primavera and Estate evoke traditional Egyptian rowing boats, imagery that appeared in Twombly’s work after he spent several months in Egypt during the mid 1980s.

November 2005