Barry X Ball: A History of Painting and Sculpture at Mignoni, installation view, NYC, 2022
A HISTORY OF PAINTING AND SCULPTURE
March 31 – June 25, 2022
Mignoni is pleased to present Cy Twombly | Barry X Ball: A History of Painting and Sculpture. In collaboration with McCABE FINE ART, this exhibition explores how both American artists’ works were heavily influenced by their lifelong inspiration from the rich cultural heritage and history of Italy. The work presents key examples of these artists’ unique approach to sculpture and painting and the shared goal of reimagining the work of masters into new poetic artworks.
Born in Lexington, Virginia, Cy Twombly first travelled to Italy in 1953 and returned to the country in 1957, marrying and settling there. The Italian landscape, its culture, history and the ever-present nature of the past (both historic and mythological) immediately became a lifelong source of inspiration for him. Barry X Ball grew up in Los Angeles and first travelled to Italy in 1984 thereafter returning to the country regularly. Ball began his artistic career as a painter, but it was ultimately sculpture that would become his main medium. Twombly was to practice painting and sculpture simultaneously throughout his career.
Formally, these two artists’ approaches could not really be more different. Twombly’s work, often abstract, is wildly impulsive, gestural, spontaneous and deeply emotional. Ball’s predominantly figure-based sculpture is precise, analytical and conceptual. Yet, given these wholly different approaches, much of Ball and Twombly’s work has been founded upon open attempts at reinvoking, re-creating and re-inventing an Italianate past through a personal engagement with some of its great masterpieces. While Twombly often invokes an Arcadian ideal through a sequence of poetic re-imaginings and even painterly re-enactions of historic moments – scratching and scrawling sensual timelines and graffiti-like fragments of poetry and broken imagery onto the time-encrusted surfaces of his pictures – Ball directly appropriates the objects themselves.
Making use of the clinical precision of today’s very latest technology, Ball, in this way, brings the past straight into the world of the present through painstakingly-crafted, state-of-the-art, 3D digitally-scanned reproductions, recreations and reinventions of some of the greatest of Italy’s sculptural masterpieces. Where Twombly often tended to reimagine the work of Leonardo da Vinci and Nicholas Poussin for instance, Ball has been allowed direct access from Italian museums to work directly from specific sculptures by Michelangelo, Antonio Corradini, Giusto le Court, Niccolò dell’Arca, Giacomo della Quercia, Gianlorenzo Bernini, Marco d’Agrate, and Antonio Canova, as well as modernist exponents like Umberto Boccioni and, in particular, the great Italian Impressionist, Medardo Rosso.
In very different ways therefore, both Ball and Twombly’s work appears to transcend time. Ball’s miraculously detailed and fixed icons of the human form appear to physically transpose images born from one time into that of another, transplanting, for example, the exuberance and ambition of the age of the Baroque into the computer-generated era of today. Invoking the same, essentially fluid, nature of time as do Twombly’s paintings, Ball’s sculpture gives its expression in a wholly different, almost Futuristic way.