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Cy Twombly, photo by François Halard
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THE WRITING ON THE WALL
by Peter Plagens



It’s difficult to make a calibrated and semi-nuanced case in favor of a prominent artist who’s just died. Opinions at that moment -- and we have one here with the passing of Cy Twombly -- tend to fall emphatically either in the direction of praise (Twombly was one of the greatest American artists of the post-World-War-II era) or bah-humbug (Twombly was a late-to-the-game Abstract Expressionist who tarted up comparatively vacuous paintings with references advertising his erudition). For me, the two extremes are both true, but in a way that leaves my estimation of Twombly not in the middle, but way over -- albeit not all the way over -- on the positive side.

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