Art School Girls

I recently spoke with a lovely young lady—lovely young lady being a euphemism for super-cute woman half my age and the rest of this thought trails off in a nice way—whose favorite exhibit in the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the installation of Cy Twombly's Fifty Days of Illiam. Fifty Days of Illiam is a collection of large paintings depicting the story of the Illiad after the fashion of finger painting and public restroom graffiti.

Everyone hates it. Well, not everyone. She likes it. I like it. Neil liked it. I haven't talked to Neil in years, so he may have changed his mind by now, but I doubt it. The point is that some of us like it a lot. You may not like it, and that's fine, but I don't want to hear about it.

The work is not my favorite in the museum. My favorite happens to be Anselm Kiefer's Nigredo, but Fifty Days of Illiam is definitely up towards the top of my list. I can certainly understand why most people don't care for the piece. For a long time I didn't like it myself. I couldn't see what anyone could possibly see in it. It took me years of visiting the work to come to terms with it, and when I finally did, it clicked.

I'm not going to do an analysis of the work here. This post is about art but has little or nothing to do with art. It's about how life shuffles people up in frustrating ways. You lose touch with good friends and they soon become strangers lost to history. You meet people who ought to be your closest friends ever, but they're born a generation late (or perhaps you're born a generation early), which makes it difficult to connect. Sometimes, ever more so in these days of the internet, you meet people who you'll never actually meet, which is kind of crazy. In summation, keep painting Huddleston. I miss you.

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