Cy Twombly. Art you can love...or not?

The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Agnes Tricoire, presents to the court a reproduction of the kiss mark on a painting by artist American Cy Twombly.
Photo: MSNBC


In researching this post I'm happy to say that American artist, Cy Twombly's all white artwork, 'Untitled', is an exception to his art rather than the norm. Perhaps that is why the artwork is valued at just over 2.8 million dollars and lays some credibility on my rationale in pricing my own blank canvas in my video guide to Pricing your artwork for sale.

Regular readers will know my distaste for blank canvas artworks so I could not pass up this opportunity to comment on Rindy Sam, a 30 year old, female French artist, who loved Twombly's blank artwork enough to kiss it with fully, lipstick loaded, lips.

The incident happened on July 19, 2007, where the painting was part of a traveling exhibition on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the southern French city of Avignon. The kiss was described as an 'act of love' by Rindy who was promptly taken into custody by French Police.

Not amused, the owner of the painting, Yvon Lambert, wants $2,878,000 in damages, which includes the value of the painting and the $47,000 restoration cost. To date, 30 cleaning products have been used on the canvas with little success in restoring it to its pristine, bone whiteness.

You can read the full story in this article, French court tries woman for kissing painting, appearing on MSNBC's web site.

In this article, "Passionate" kiss lands art lover in court, on Yahoo News, Rindy is reported as having said that she 'thought her lipstick had improved the white, untitled painting'. I'm inclined to agree.

Where once there was simply a painting waiting to be started, there is now a collaborative effort that is made all the more interesting for the controversy surrounding it. Value adding I say. Should add another million at least to the price tag now that it will forever be known as the painting that was kissed by an 'art lover'.

9 comments:

  1. I tend to agree with you. The kiss adds to the painting, not detracts from it.
    Yvon Lambert must not be a fan of Far Eastern art from a couple hundred years ago, when it was not uncommon for the owner of a piece of art to write poetry in the margins.
    I wonder what Cy Twombly thinks about the incident? I have yet to see an interview anywhere on the net.

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  2. I like the idea of writing poetry in the margins of a painting but at the same time I'm not sure if I'd want someone to do that to one of my paintings (especially if I thought it was one of my best).

    It would certainly be interesting to hear Cy's thoughts on the issue. Maybe he's just happy to be in the main stream news or maybe he's offended too. I didn't come across any comment from him in my research either.

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  3. You particularly wouldn't want someone to write poetry in the margins (are there any?!!) of your best blank canvas art!! LOL!!

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  4. That is so true!! LOL Definitely made me laugh!

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  5. A blank canvas worth over 2 million dollars? If we're using the logic you've suggested for pricing... then it probably cost barely anything to produce... only took the amount of time it took to purchase the material (which doesn't really count). So either this guy charges 2mill a minuet or this is a very special piece to him.

    Now, what I'm wondering is: How is a blank canvas so important so as to be worth 2mill? It's no wonder that some artists will paint with feces or on urinals.

    It really makes you think about what art actually is. Obviously we can't all buy a canvas and then turn around and sell it for a 2mill profit.

    Also, that reproduction of the lipstick is very poorly done. It just looks like a smudge to me.

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  6. I'm guessing, Nathanial, that Cy probably created this artwork after he cemented his reputation as an artist worth investing in - or - it is an early work that only increased in value once Cy became notable.

    Why an artwork is valuable depends on many factors, one of which is the reputation of the artist and the context in which the work was created . Which is why I can't buy a canvas, put a blue dot on it and sell it for 2 million at the moment. But if I stored the canvas, and then built a reputation as an investment artist - maybe I could in the future.

    I'm not so sure about the reproduction of the lipstick mark - it's possible that's the mark left after they unsuccessfully tried to remove it.

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  7. I'm saving up - to buy your blue dot 'Minimilism of Art' painting!!

    Oh....but you didn't save it though, did you?!! Rats! Do another, just incase! LOL!! Even better....do a few - so you'll really be rich! Ha- Ha!!

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  8. There's always the green dot minimalist painting that I planned. I'd get onto painting it but I just haven't got the time to do all the preparation. ;)

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  9. Yes, 'cos it takes time selecting just the right size paper, shade of white, texture, surface smoothness, amount of paint and shade of green, correct thickness of paint - plus - knowing exactly where to put it on the paper etc, etc!! Very important, or it could ruin the whole thing!!

    It all gets too tiring! LOL!!

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