• Post-War & Contemporary Art Mo auction at Christies

    Sale 2598

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Morning Session

    15 November 2012, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 143

    Cy Twombly (1928-2011)


    Price Realised  


    Cy Twombly (1928-2011)
    signed and dated 'Cy Twombly 1970' (on the reverse)
    gouache and wax crayon on board
    27½ x 34¼ in. (70 x 87 cm.)
    Executed in 1970.

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    This work will be included in the Catalogue Raisonné of Cy Twombly Drawings being prepared by Nicola Del Roscio.

    With tools traditionally reserved for writing, Cy Twombly inscribes wax crayon on pale paper colored with gray house paint. In Untitled, the artist's marks follow the lines of written text but continually avoid legibility. His abstract, gestural forms of Untitled mark it as a characteristic example of the artist's Roman Note series. Spontaneously drawn, the artist's fluid script resembles waxy ribbons of blue, which are accented by faint echoes of similar lines. With graceful simplicity, he captures the ephemeral gesture of his own signature and simultaneously evokes an eternal and universal rhythm.
    Living in New York in the 1950s, Twombly found his most lasting stylistic influences amongst the action painters. When the artist began studying art at the Art Students League in 1951, he met the like-minded painter, Robert Rauschenberg, who persuaded Twombly to enroll in Black Mountain College that same year. Twombly studied under such artists as Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell, absorbing the fundamental tenets of Abstract Expressionism. Untitled, with its focus on natural rhythms and spontaneous gestures, demonstrates Twombly deep admiration for Jackson Pollock. Both Pollock and Twombly emphasize meditative movements and elemental forces within their allover compositions: yet while Pollock works in horizontal, full-body sways, Twombly's draws with an intimate painterly touch. Calligraphic in style, Twombly's loose script brings a hesitancy and fragility to a technique as individual as handwriting. Twombly was a key figure in the generation of American artists who explored new painterly signifiers after the emergence of Abstract Expressionism.
    As a Roman Note painting, Untitled recalls the artist's deep interest in Greek and Roman antiquity, which stemmed from his tour of Europe and North Africa with Rauschenberg in 1955. As the series' title suggests, Twombly was especially taken with Rome, and the artist moved there two years later. Captivated by the coexistence of the classical and the modern of the city, Twombly was inspired by the dual presence of ancient wall paintings and modern street graffiti. Similarly, Untitled creates new marks, re-clarified with the artist's sleight of hand, and simultaneously references historical precedents. Thus, Twombly presents his work as a personal and universal palimpsest, documenting Twombly's individual gestures while referencing those of the past.


    Galleria Marilena Bonomo, Bari
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1972-1973