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This report is taken from PN Review 185, Volume 35 Number 3, January - February 2009.

Twombly and Olson: How can a man throw his shadow? Simon Eckett

In his 1952 essay 'Cy Twombly', Charles Olson asks, 'Take it flatly, a plane. On it, how can a man throw his shadow, make this the illumination of his experience, how put his weight exactly - there?' Later he adds, 'How make that plane, the two dimensions, be all - from a point to any dimension?' For himself, he answers, 'In my business it comes out how, by alphabetic letters, such signs and their syllables...' For Twombly, Olson writes, 'the thrown down glyphs, the old sorells in sheep dirt in caves, the flaking iron - these are his paintings. ' On arrival at Black Mountain College in 1951 Twombly made an immediate impression on Olson. In his letter to Robert Creeley of Friday November 29th 1951, Olson writes, 'And so to the Gothic: as Shahn or you or Twombly or self are, more Gothic than, Renaissance... Anyhow, the pleasure, of talking to a boy as open & sure as this Twombly, abt line, just the goddamned wonderful pleasure of form, when one can talk to another who has the feeling for it - and christ, who has?' and in the same letter he adds, 'I so like this lad.' That same month Olson wrote a poem, 'For Cy Twombly Faced with His First Chicago & N.Y. Shows', expressing, 'Paint heats, or is caused to flow// in his hands, causes// what is, which is who he is,...'


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