cover image Before the Borderless: Dialogues with the Art of Cy Twombly

Before the Borderless: Dialogues with the Art of Cy Twombly

Dean Rader. Copper Canyon, $36 (144p) ISBN 978-1-55659-675-9

Rader’s prismatic and experimental latest (after Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry) transcends descriptive or observational commentary to engage with the work of visual artist Twombly in psychic conversation. The collection was inspired by Rader’s 2018 visit to Gagosian Gallery in New York City to see a retrospective of the painter’s work, shortly after the death of Rader’s father. The book aptly opens on an epigraph from Twombly: “I never really separated painting and literature.” In “Meditation on Instruction,” Rader writes, “In Twombly’s Untitled you don’t know where to look because you can’t figure out which way the surface is moving.... When I look at this painting, I see Oklahoma, I see autumn, I see wheatfields, I see the sun and a ray of rust and the wind bending the stalks but at the same time mending them into something akin to skin smoothing itself over a body that is not there.” “Meditation on Inspiration” begins, “This poem was going to explore the notion of painting as picture—/ but cannot.” Loss reverberates in these striking pages that thoughtfully and innovatively consider Twombly’s work while highlighting the echoes and tensions between poetry and painting. (Apr.)