1. It examines the aesthetic form of Wittgenstein’s texts, so as to consider the use of pictures, comparisons, and instructions as exercises to be enacted by readers, and further analyzes the transformative effects – both aesthetic and ethical – that such exercises bring out.
2. It draws a number of connections between Wittgenstein’s philosophical exercises and particular aesthetic practices.
3. It sheds light on continuities and discontinuities between Wittgenstein’s account of philosophy and the ancient conception of philosophy as an exercise and a way of life.
Cy Twombly (1928–2011), one of America’s most important artists, inscribed on his works written notes and fragments of poetry, even whole poems, throughout the whole period of his creative activity. The present Catalogue of Inscriptions for the first time collects in six opulent volumes all 901 of Twombly’s written notations, presenting them in transcription and in the context of their 113 different literary sources, and so traces the artist’s lifelong intellectual engagement with poetry and the forms of the scriptural. More than 90% of the decipherment and more than half of the authors quoted by Twombly are first assignments.
Roland Barthes described Cy Twombly’s oeuvre as a “work of writing”. In fact, Twombly’s use of written texts clearly sets him apart from other second generation representatives of the New York School (Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns). Twombly provided around 40% of his pictorial works from 1953 onwards with textual notations and literary quotations from poets from antiquity to the present day, such as Sappho, Praxilla, Rumi, ʿAbbās ibn al-Aḥnaf, Keats, Rilke, Bachmann, Faiz Ahmed Faiz or Patricia Waters. Yet the level of meaning of the handwritten inscriptions remains an element of his pictorial language whose interpretation is still disputed today, since only 19 poets have been cited to date.
On the basis of the publication, the scriptural becomes clearly recognizable for the first time as an equal element in the structure of Cy Twombly’s work and an essential medium of signification in his pictorial world. The introductory volume, drawing on the results of the work of transcription and ascription, analyzes how Twombly’s inscriptional practice developed and how complex constellations of iconotextual references are created between the scriptural and the graphic in his works. Against the background of the conception of poetics of Charles Olson, Twombly’s teacher at Black Mountain College, it becomes evident that in Twombly the scriptural is the principal bearer of “remanence”, the phenomenon that enables a re-enactment, in each present moment of reception, of what is represented. Cy Twombly described this energy force and emotional intensity as “the phenomenon of finding the memory of something that has vanished and left no trace of itself”.
Improvisation is also the true source of artistic experience. Consequently, the aesthetics of improvisation result in a philosophy of art: Art was born as improvisation. Yet improvisation has its own aesthetic dimension: that of a "grammar of contingency" in which notions such as emergence, presence, curiosity and authenticity explain the pleasures of joyful adventure and empathic involvement elicited by improvisation.