I plan on attending the Cy Twombly exhibit at the Tute later this week. I was looking up reviews of the show online. One such review used a word I never heard of before. One reason I like reading about art is that I often encounter new words which allows me to run them through “viscerality” is one such word. Here’s the context:

While Twombly’s work over the course of his career has always been rooted in place-his move to Rome, for example, in the late 1950s mirrored his immersion with classical referents and a profound sense of history-rarely has landscape and its components been expressed with such viscerality.

No results on for “viscerality“.

Visceral” means:
1. of or pertaining to the viscera.
2. affecting the viscera.
3. of the nature of or resembling viscera.
4. characterized by or proceeding from instinct rather than intellect: a visceral reaction.
5. characterized by or dealing with coarse or base emotions; earthy; crude: a visceral literary style.

Ok definitions 4 and 5 can apply here. But I was curious what 1-3 was all about. What’s this viscera?

viscera” means:
1. Anatomy, Zoology. the organs in the cavities of the body, esp. those in the abdominal cavity.
2. (not used scientifically) the intestines; bowels.

Uh. I’m not so sure Twombly’s latest works can exactly be related to bowels or body organs.

Image above: Cy Twombly. Untitled (detail), 2007. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Marron, New York.
Cy Twombly. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

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Peter Machen
Peter Machen
8 years ago

1-3 relate to the fact that we feel instinctive reactions in our gut – or viscera.

6 years ago

All of Twombly’s work can bear that relation, since visceral esentially means that something gets you in guts, or feels real. The effective opposite of visceral is cerebral.