Twombly’s Venus

Venus, Cy Twombly, 1975.

 
 

Cy Twombly often inscribed on paintings the names of mythological figures during the 1960s. Twombly’s move to Gaeta in Southern Italy in 1957 gave him closer contact with classical sources. From 1962 he produced a cycle of works based on myths including Leda and the Swan and The Birth of Venus; myths were frequent themes of Twombly’s 1960s work. Between 1960 and 1963 Twombly painted the rape of Leda by the god Zeus/Jupiter in the form of a Swan six times, once in 1960, twice in 1962 and three times in 1963.

 
 

Venus and Adonis, 1978

 
 

Pseudo-mathematical equations, hasty doodles, compendiums of graph paper, finger-painting, splotching and erasing (always erasing)–anything Mr. Twombly puts his hand to is reliable in its insouciance and consummately superficial. He can be pretentious, too: In a suite of drawings from the mid-1970′s, Mr. Twombly lists the names of mythical figures (Venus, Apollo, Pan and the like) as if an array of artful scrawls could somehow embody one of humankind’s grander fictions.

Together with Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, Twombly is regarded as the most important representative of a generation of artists who distanced themselves from Abstract Expressionism.

Ruled by Venus

Bob Dylan and his son Jakob. Photo: Eliott Landy, 1968

 
 

Born under opposite signs, the two Dylans have astrological connections that are respectful but distant. Father Bob is a Gemini (with the three planets in the brilliant and quick-witted sign), while son Jakob is a Sag (with four planets in this restless sign of the student and teacher). Jakob’s Venus in Sagittarius is in the same sign as his father’s rising sign. The rising sign (also known as Ascendant) is all about a person’s image in the world. The Venus-rising sign connection is warm, but the underlying message from the father is “You are a romantic reflection of me and my artistic talent” (Venus rules romance and art).

Together Through Life

The thirty-third studio album by singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on April 28, 2009 by Columbia Records.

 
 

This image from Brooklyn Gang series  by Bruce Davidson was used as the cover for Together Through Life

 
 

Bob Dylan wrote all but one of the album’s songs with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, with whom he had previously co-written two songs on his 1988 album Down in the Groove. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Dylan commented on the collaboration: “Hunter is an old buddy, we could probably write a hundred songs together if we thought it was important or the right reasons were there… He’s got a way with words and I do too. We both write a different type of song than what passes today for songwriting.”

Dylan produced the record under his pseudonym of Jack Frost, which he used for his previous two studio albums, Love and Theft and Modern Times. The album was rumored to contain “struggling love songs” and have little similarity to Modern Times.

 
 

My Own Love Song (Olivier Dahan, 2010) theatrical poster

 
 

In a conversation with music journalist Bill Flanagan, published on Bob Dylan’s official website, Flanagan suggested a similarity of the new record to the sound of Chess Records and Sun Records, which Dylan acknowledged as an effect of “the way the instruments were played.” He said that the genesis of the record was when French film director Olivier Dahan asked him to supply a song for his road movie, My Own Love Song, which became Life is Hard – indeed, ‘according to Dylan, Dahan was keen to get a whole soundtrack’s worth of songs from the man’ – and “then the record sort of took its own direction.”

As with some of Dylan’s albums before Together Through Life, Dylan has adapted lyrics from other songs and incorporated them into his own lyrics—if with perhaps a ‘slightly diminished use of the light-fingered lift’, compared with ‘Dylan’s lyrical approach from recent albums’. The phrase “If you ever go to Houston, you better walk right” is taken from the folk song Midnight Special : Dylan played harmonica on Harry Belafonte‘s 1962 recording of the song. ‘The one time he overtly used someone else’s song as a springboard for his own – Billy Joe Shaver‘s  Ain’t No God in Mexico, a clear template for I Feel a Change Comin’ On – he openly acknowledged the debt to historian Douglas Brinkley’. Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ is the opening track of this album. The title is a quote from the Ancient Roman poet Ovid: “Beyond here lies nothing but chillness, hostility, frozen waves of an ice-hard sea.” (Poems from Exile). It bears a very significant resemblance to the original 1958 song All Your Love (I Miss Loving) by Otis Rush.