Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly
Birth name Edwin Parker Twombly, Jr.
Born April 25, 1928(1928-04-25)
Lexington, Virginia, United States
Died July 5, 2011(2011-07-05) (aged 83)
Rome, Italy
Nationality American
Field Painting, sculpture, calligraphy
Training School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Washington and Lee University
Art Students League of New York
Black Mountain College

Edwin Parker "Cy" Twombly, Jr. (April 25, 1928 – July 5, 2011)[1] was an American artist well known for his large-scale, freely scribbled, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings, on solid fields of mostly gray, tan, or off-white colors. He exhibited his paintings worldwide.

Twombly used the nickname "Cy", after his father (also nicknamed Cy, who was briefly a pitcher in Major League Baseball) and the star baseball pitcher Cy Young.[2] Twombly's paintings blur the line between drawing and painting. Many of his best-known paintings of the late 1960s are reminiscent of a school blackboard on which someone has practiced cursive "e"s. Twombly had at this point discarded painting figurative, representational subject-matter, citing the line or smudge – each mark with its own history – as its proper subject.

Later, many of his paintings and works on paper moved into "romantic symbolism", and their titles can be interpreted visually through shapes and forms and words. Twombly often quoted the poet Stéphane Mallarmé, as well as many classical myths and allegories in his works. Examples of this are his Apollo and The Artist and a series of eight drawings consisting solely of inscriptions of the word "VIRGIL". In a 1994 retrospective, curator Kirk Varnedoe described Twombly's work as “influential among artists, discomfiting to many critics and truculently difficult not just for a broad public, but for sophisticated initiates of postwar art as well.”[3] After acquiring Twombly's Three Studies from the Temeraire (1998–99), the Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales said "sometimes people need a little bit of help in recognising a great work of art that might be a bit unfamiliar".[4] He is said to have influenced younger artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Francesco Clemente, and Julian Schnabel.[5]


Early life and career

Twombly was born in Lexington, Virginia, on April 25, 1928. Twombly's father, also nicknamed "Cy", pitched for the Chicago White Sox.[6] They were both nicknamed after the baseball great Cy Young who pitched for among others the Cardinals, Red Sox, Indians, and Braves.

At age 12, he began to take private art lessons with the Spanish modern master Pierre Daura.[7] He served as a cryptographer in the U.S. army. After graduating from Lexington High School in 1946, Twombly attended Darlington School in Rome, Georgia, and studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1948–49), and at Washington and Lee University (1949–50) in Lexington, Virginia. On a tuition scholarship from 1950 to 1951, he studied at the Art Students League of New York, where he met Robert Rauschenberg, who encouraged him to attend Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina. At Black Mountain in 1951 and 1952 he studied with Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell and Ben Shahn, and met John Cage.

Arranged by Motherwell, the Samuel Kootz Gallery in New York organized Twombly's first solo exhibition in 1951. At this time his work was influenced by Kline's black-and-white gestural expressionism, as well as Paul Klee's imagery. In 1952, Twombly received a grant from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which enabled him to travel to North Africa, Spain, Italy, and France. Between 1954 and 1956, he taught at the Southern Seminary and Junior College in Buena Vista, Virginia.

In 1957, Twombly moved to Rome, where he met the Italian artist Tatiana Franchetti – sister of his patron Baron Giorgio Franchetti. They were married at City Hall in New York in 1959[8] and then bought a palazzo on the Via di Monserrato in Rome. Later on, they preferred to dwell in Gaeta near Rome. In 2011, Twombly died in Rome after being hospitalized for several days; he had had cancer for many years.[9] He has a son, Cyrus Alessandro Twombly, who is also a painter and lives in Rome.


After his return in 1953, Twombly served in the U.S. army as a cryptologist, an activity that left a distinct mark on his artistic style. From 1955 to 1959, he worked in New York, where he became a prominent figure among a group of artists including Robert Rauschenberg – with whom he had a relationship[10] and was sharing a studio[11] – and Jasper Johns. Exposure to the emerging New York School purged figurative aspects from his work, encouraging a simplified form of abstraction. He became fascinated with tribal art, using the painterly language of the early 1950s to invoke primitivism, reversing the normal evolution of the New York School. Twombly soon developed a technique of gestural drawing that was characterized by thin white lines on a dark canvas that appear to be scratched onto the surface. His early sculptures, assembled from discarded objects, similarly cast their gaze back to Europe and North Africa. He stopped making sculptures in 1959 and did not take up sculpturing again until 1976.[12]

Just when Johns and Rauschenberg were starting to sell to museums as well as private collectors, Twombly, who was not yet 30, moved to Gaeta in Southern Italy in 1957. This furthered his use of classical sources: from 1962 he produced a cycle of works based on subjects from history such as Leda and the Swan. The subject of Leda and the Swan, like that of The Birth of Venus was one of the most dramatic and frequent themes of Twombly's work of the early 1960s. Between 1960 and 1963 Twombly painted the subject of Leda's rape by the god Zeus/Jupiter in the form of a Swan six times, once in 1960, twice in 1962 and three times in 1963.[13]

The critical low point probably came after a widely panned 1964 exhibition of the nine-panel Discourses on Commodus (1963) at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. The artist and writer Donald Judd was especially damning, calling the show a fiasco. “There are a few drips and splatters and an occasional pencil line,” he wrote in a review. “There isn’t anything to these paintings.”[14]

Erotic and corporeal symbols became more prominent, whilst a greater lyricism developed in his 'Blackboard paintings'. Between 1967 and 1971, he produced a number of works on gray grounds, the 'grey paintings'. This series features terse, colorless scrawls, reminiscent of chalk on a blackboard, that form no actual words. Twombly made this work using an unusual technique: he sat on the shoulders of a friend, who shuttled back and forth along the length of the canvas, thus allowing the artist to create his fluid, continuous lines.[15] In the summer and early autumn of 1969, Twombly made a series of fourteen paintings while staying at Bolsena, a lake to the north of Rome. In 1971, Nini Pirandello, the wife of Twombly’s Roman gallerist Plinio De Martiis, died suddenly. In tribute, Twombly painted the elegiac "Nini’s Paintings".

His later sculptures exhibit a similar blend of emotional expansiveness and intellectual sophistication. From 1976, Twombly again produced sculptures, lightly painted in white, suggestive of Classical forms. Like his earlier works, these pieces are assembled from found materials such as pieces of wood or packaging, or cast in bronze and covered in white paint and plaster.[16] In the mid-1970s, in paintings such as Untitled (1976), Twombly began to evoke landscape through colour (favouring brown, green and light blue), written inscriptions and collage elements.[17] In 1978 he worked on the monumental historical ensemble Fifty Days at Iliam, a ten-part cycle inspired by Homer's Iliad; since then Twombly continued to draw on literature and myth, deploying cryptic pictorial metaphors that situate individual experience within the grand narratives of Western tradition, as in the Gaeta canvases and the monumental Four Seasons concluded in 1994.

In an essay in the catalogue to the 2011 Dulwich exhibition (see below), Katharina Schmidt summarizes the scope and technique of Twombly's œuvre:

"Cy Twombly's work can be understood as one vast engagement with cultural memory. His paintings, drawings and sculptures on mythological subjects have come to form a significant part of that memory. Usually drawing on the most familiar gods and heroes, he restricts himself to just a few, relatively well-known episodes, as narrated by poet-historians, given visible shape by artists and repeatedly reinterpreted in the literature and visual art of later centuries.....His special medium is writing. Starting out from purely graphic marks, he developed a kind of meta-script in which abbreviated signs, hatchings, loops, numbers and the simplest of pictographs spread throughout the picture plane in a process of incessant movement, repeatedly subverted by erasures. Eventually, this metamorphosed into script itself."[18]

However, in a 1994 article Kirk Varnedoe thought it necessary to defend Twombly's seemimgly random marks and splashes of paint against the criticism that "This is just scribbles - my kid could do it".

"One could say that any child could make a drawing like Twombly only in the sense that any fool with a hammer could fragment sculptures as Rodin did, or any house painter could spatter pain as well as Pollock. In none of these cases would it be true. In each case the art lies not so much in the finesse of the individual mark, but in the orchestration of a previously uncodified set of personal "rules" about where to act and where not, how far to go and when to stop, in such a way as the cumulative courtship of seeming chaos defines an original, hybrid kind of order, which in turn illuminates a complex sense of human experience not voiced or left marginal in previous art."[19]

Together with Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, Twombly is regarded as the most important representative of a generation of artists who distanced themselves from Abstract Expressionism.[20]


After having shown at Stable Gallery from 1953 to 1957, Twombly moved to Leo Castelli Gallery.

Twombly was invited to exhibit his work at the Venice Biennale in 1964, 1989 and 2001. In 1968, the Milwaukee Art Museum mounted the first retrospective of his art. Twombly had his next retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1979, curated by David Whitney. The artist has later been honored by retrospectives at the Kunsthaus Zürich in 1987 (curated by Harald Szeemann), the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, in 1988, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1994, with additional venues in Houston, Los Angeles, and Berlin.[21] In 2001, the Menil Collection, the Kunstmuseum Basel, and the National Gallery of Art presented the first exhibition devoted entirely to Twombly's sculpture, assembling sixty-six works created from 1946 to 1998.[22] The European retrospective "Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons" opened at the Tate Modern, London, in June 2008, with subsequent versions at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome in 2009. Opening in conjunction with the Modern Wing, Twombly's most recent solo exhibition —Cy Twombly: The Natural World, Selected Works 2000–2007— was on display at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009.

In 1993, at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York, an exhibition of Twombly's photographs offered a selection of large blurry color images of tulips, trees and ancient busts, based on the artist's Polaroids. In 2008, a specially curated selection of Twombly's photographic work was exhibited in "Huis Marseille", the Museum for Photography, Amsterdam; the exhibition was opened by Sally Mann. In 2011, the Museum Brandhorst, mounted an retrospective of Twombly's photographs from 1951 to 2010. It later was passed over to the "Museum für Gegenwartskunst" at Siegen (July-October 2011).[23]

Phaedrus incident

In 2007, an exhibition of Twombly's paintings, Blooming, a Scattering of Blossoms and Other Things, and other works on paper from gallerist Yvon Lambert's collection was displayed from June to September in Avignon (France), at the Lambert Foundation (Hôtel de Caumont). On July 19, 2007, police arrested Cambodian-French artist Rindy Sam after she kissed one panel of Twombly's triptych Phaedrus. The panel, an all-white canvas, was smudged by Sam's red lipstick. She was tried in a court in Avignon for "voluntary degradation of a work of art".

Sam defended her gesture to the court: "J'ai fait juste un bisou. C'est un geste d'amour, quand je l'ai embrassé, je n'ai pas réfléchi, je pensais que l'artiste, il aurait compris... Ce geste était un acte artistique provoqué par le pouvoir de l'art" ("It was just a kiss, a loving gesture. I kissed it without thinking; I thought the artist would understand.... It was an artistic act provoked by the power of Art").

The prosecution, calling it "A sort of cannibalism, or parasitism", while admitting that Sam is "visibly not conscious of what she has done", asked that she be fined €4500 and compelled to attend a citizenship class. The art work, which is worth an estimated $2 million, was on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Avignon.[24][25][26] In November 2007 Sam was convicted and ordered to pay €1,000 to the painting's owner, €500 to the Avignon gallery that showed it, and €1 to the painter.[27]

Tate exhibition

Twombly's work was on exhibition at the Tate Modern, in London, from June 19 to September 14, 2008. Text for the showing read:

This was his first solo retrospective in fifteen years, and provides an overview of his work from the 1950s to now.... At the heart of the exhibition is Twombly’s work exploring the cycles associated with seasons, nature and the passing of time. Several key groups are brought together for the first time, such as Tate’s Four Seasons (1993–94) with those from the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibition also explores how Twombly is influenced by antiquity, myth and the Mediterranean, for example the violent red swirls in the Bacchus 2005 paintings which bring to mind the drunken god of wine. The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to see the full range of Twombly’s long and influential career from a fresh perspective.[16]

Dulwich Picture Gallery exhibition

Twombly's work went on display as part of Twombly and Poussin: Arcadian Painters at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London from June 29, 2011 less than a week before Twombly's Death. The show was built on a quote by Twombly stating that “I would’ve liked to have been Poussin, if I’d had a choice, in another time” and is the first time that his work was put in an exhibition with Poussin.[28]


•2011: Rencontres d'Arles Festival, France.


In 1989, the Philadelphia Museum of Art opened permanent rooms dedicated to his monumental 10-painting cycle, Fifty Days at Iliam (1978), based on Alexander Pope’s translation of “The Iliad.”[14] The Cy Twombly Gallery of the Menil Collection in Houston, which was designed by Renzo Piano and opened in 1995, houses more than thirty of Twombly's paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, dating from 1953 to 1994. A large collection of Twombly's work is also kept by the Museum Brandhorst and the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.

In 1995, The Four Seasons entered the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art as a gift from the artist. A recent (1998–1999) Twombly work, Three Studies from the Temeraire, a triptych, was purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales for A$4.5 million in 2004. In 2010, Twombly’s permanent site-specific painting, Ceiling was unveiled in the Salle des Bronzes at the Musée du Louvre; he is only the third artist to have been invited to do so as well as only the first artist given this honor since Georges Braque in the 1950s.[29] In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, made a large acquisition of nine works worth about $75 million.[12]


Twombly was a recipient of numerous awards, most notably the Praemium Imperiale (1996). In 2001 he was awarded the Golden Lion at the 49th Venice Biennale. In 2010, he was made Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur by the French government. During fall 2010, Tacita Dean produced a film on Twombly, titled "Edwin Parker".[30]

At auction

Already in 1990, a Christie's auction set a record for Twombly, with his 1971 untitled blackboard painting fetching $5.5 million. In 2011, a Twombly work from 1967, "Untitled", sold for $15.2 million at Christie's in New York.[31]


A first monograph of drawings edited by Heiner Bastian was published in 1972. In 1977, the first monograph on the paintings was published by Propyläen Verlag in Berlin, followed by the publication of his catalogue raisonne of sculpture by Nicola Del Roscio in 1997.



  1. ^ Cash, Stephanie. "Cy Twombly, Legendary Scribbler, Dead Age 83". Art in America. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Masters, Christopher (July 6, 2011). ""Cy" (Cyclone) Twombly, obituary". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved July 6, 2011. )
  3. ^ Kennedy, Randy (July 5, 2011). "Cy Twombly, Idiosyncratic Painter, Dies at 83". New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  4. ^ Morgan, Joyce (2011-07-07). "With his feet on classical ground". The Sydney Morning Herald. pp. 14. Retrieved July 7, 2011. 
  5. ^ Matt Schudel (July 6, 2011), Cy Twombly, influential Va.-born abstract artist, dies at 83 Washington Post.
  6. ^ Alastair Sooke (February 9, 2009), Cy Twombly: late flowering for Mr Scribbles The Telegraph
  7. ^ Cy Twombly Gallery Menil Collection.
  8. ^ Jonathan Jones (April 10, 2004), The last American hurrah The Guardian.
  9. ^ "US artist Cy Twombly dies in Rome: French gallery". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  10. ^ Jones, Jonathan (May 15, 2008). "The trashcan laureate". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  11. ^ Holland Cotter (February 4, 2005), A Sensualist's Odd Ascetic Aesthetic New York Times.
  12. ^ a b Carol Vogel (March 11, 2011), MoMA to Acquire Cy Twombly Works New York Times.
  13. ^ Cy Twombly, Leda and the Swan (1963), Sale 2355 Christie's New York, Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale, November 10, 2010.
  14. ^ a b Randy Kennedy (July 5, 2011), American Artist Who Scribbled a Unique Path New York Times.
  15. ^ Cy Twombly Untitled (1970) MoMA Collection
  16. ^ a b Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons, June 19 – September 14, 2008. Tate Modern, London.
  17. ^ Cy Twombly MoMA Collection.
  18. ^ Katherina Schmidt, "Immortal and Eternally Young. Figures from classical mythology in the work of Nicolas Poussin and Cy Twombly", in Nicholas Cullinan (ed) Twombly and Poussin - Arcadian Painters. London: Dulwich Picture Gallery/Paul Holberton Publishing, 2011.
  19. ^ "Your Kid Could Not Do This, and Other Reflections on Cy Twombly". MoMa No.18, Autumn-Winter 1994, pp.18-23.
  20. ^ Cy Twombly Museum Brandhorst, Munich.
  21. ^ Collection: Cy Twombly Guggenheim Collection.
  22. ^ "Cy Twombly: The Sculpture," 6 May - 29 July 2001 National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
  23. ^
  24. ^ BBC News, Painting meets its femme fatale
  25. ^ Le Figaro – Actualité en direct et informations en continu
  26. ^ One is art, one is vandalism – but which is which?, The Scotsman, October 10, 2007
  27. ^ Woman Who Kissed Painting With Red Lipstick Gets Community Service
  28. ^ Hamilton, Adrian (July 5, 2011). "Twombly and Poussin: Every picture tells a story". The Independent. UK. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  29. ^ Nicole Winfield (July 6, 2011), American master painter Cy Twombly Philly Press.
  30. ^ Tacita Dean (July 6, 2011, Cy Twombly: a close encounter The Guardian
  31. ^ Carol Vogel (May 11, 2011), Bidding War for a Warhol Breaks Out at Christie’s New York Times.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужен реферат?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • TWOMBLY (C.) — TWOMBLY CY (1928 ) L’œuvre de Twombly est le produit de deux traditions que l’histoire de l’art moderne a eu tendance à opposer: celle de la grande peinture américaine, née avec l’expressionnisme abstrait, et celle d’une culture européenne… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Twombly Car — Twombly Cyclecar (1914) Die Twombly Car Corporation war ein US amerikanischer Automobilhersteller in New York City. 1913–1915 wurden dort Cyclecars unter dem Namen Twombly vertrieben. Gründer der Firma war Willard I. Twombly, der schon zweimal… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Twombly Ridge — Territorio no organizado de los Estados Unidos …   Wikipedia Español

  • Twombly — may refer to:= * Twombly (automobile), an automobile manufactured between 1910 and 1911 * Twombly (cyclecar), an American automobile manufactured between 1913 and 1915 * Twombly, MainePeople named Twombly* Carol Twombly, an American calligrapher… …   Wikipedia

  • Twombly — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Carol Twombly (* 1959), US amerikanische Schriftartendesignerin Cy Twombly (1928–2011), Vertreter der zeitgenössischen amerikanischen Malerei Willard Irving Twombly, US amerikanischer Automobilunternehmer… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Twombly, Maine — Twombly is an unorganized territory (township) located in Penobscot County, Maine. As of the 2000 census, the unorganized territory had a total population of 2. According to the United States Census Bureau it is one of only 5 places in the United …   Wikipedia

  • Twombly —   [ twɔmbli], Cy, amerikanischer Maler und Zeichner, * Lexington (Virginia) 25. 4. 1928; lebt seit 1957 meist in Rom; ging vom abstrakten Expressionismus aus, den er in seinen Bildern und Zeichnungen zu einer an Kritzeleien erinnernden, Schrift… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Twombly — Cy Twombly Exposition au MOMA Edwin Parker (Cy) Twombly Jr., né le 25 avril 1928 à Lexington (Virginie), est un peintre, dessinateur, sculpteur et photographe américain. Son œuvre croise les enjeux majeurs de l art au XXe siècle: le dilemme… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Twombly, Cy — ▪ American artist in full  Edwin Parker Twombly, Jr.   born April 25, 1928, Lexington, Va., U.S.       American painter, draughtsman, and sculptor whose work reflects a lifelong consideration of the expressive possibilities of mark making.… …   Universalium

  • Twombly (cyclecar) — The Twombly was a cyclecar manufactured in the US by Driggs Seabury between 1913 and 1915.The cars had water cooled four cylinder engines, two seats in tandem, and an underslung body.Some Twomblys still survive. See also *List of defunct United… …   Wikipedia

  • Twombly — /ˈtwɒmbli/ (say twomblee) noun Cy (Edwin Parker Twombly), 1928–2011, US abstract painter and sculptor …  

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”