Philadelphia Museum of Art

Reflection by Tashi Treadway ’19

Edwards Collective members Alexander Lin ’18 and Gabrielle Chen ’18 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photograph by Tashi Treadway ’19

Four of us journeyed to the Philadelphia Art Museum to specifically see the temporary exhibition of Cy Twombly’s works. Twombly’s works focused on the popular subject of war and its emotional consequences. The furry of Achilles and the grief of others were the highlights of Homer’s Iliad. Iliad beings with the line, “Sing, Oh Muse, the rage of Achilles…” Twombly’s characteristic style consists of written word and wild, expressionistic strokes. Achilles’ rage is portrayed by blood red cloud in contrast to Hector’s tragedy which is depicted as a gloomy blue-grey cloud. These emotions are extremely prominent against the blank white canvas which adds the effect of the clouds representing souls floating in a vacuum.

Twombly’s scribbled writing conveys a sense of constant motion and uneasiness prevalent in the Iliad and war. This style of handwriting is most jarring in House of Priam which names the children of Priam. Cassandra’s name is the largest and has the most chalk and charcoal dust surrounding it. The letters are haunting and color Cassandra’s voice with foreboding and pain. Cassandra, although she always knew what was to happen, was never believed and could only helplessly watch the fall of her city. Twombly in this silent visual piece gives her more a voice than she had in the Iliad.