I must admit from the get-go that I have never been a die-hard fan of Cy Twombly’s work; I do like his photographs and their faded hues, but his paintings often left me skeptical, or even worried. His retrospective at the Centre Pompidou (November 30, 2016 – April 24, 2017) had the merit to help me understand why. To me, Twombly oscillates between two poles: one is austere, abstraction-oriented, pared down, reduced to its simplest expression; the other is expressive, exuberant, almost baroque, and weighed down with references that can be seen as pretentious.
For the past year, in the U.S., a fairly renown critic, A. D. Coleman, has been analyzing and deconstructing the famous photographs Robert Capa took on D-Day in Normandy. He started out with a very technical investigation focusing on facts: the time spent on the beach; the number of films used and of frames shot; the unlikeliness of the version explaining the destruction of most of the photographs because of overheating. Such findings appear to be indisputable. His analysis then tackled the subsequent construction of the Capa myth –as did the French scholars who first relayed Coleman’s works. Again, it seems there is nothing to oppose to this, save for, maybe, some excessive hostility in the choice of words, infringing on the (my) rules of courtesy. Coleman’s remarkable deconstruction has allowed for further inquiry into the Capa myth, which had already been challenged by rising doubts over the famous Spanish photograph. All of this does not negate Capa’s talent or his contribution to photojournalism, yet it does reinforce the doubts about his character and the construction of his legend. Continue reading