Cy Twombly’s Untitled is a painting about elements, conjuring up the sky and clouds that so inspired and engaged him. In this sublimely beautiful work, Twombly invokes an aesthetic of ethereality, a dialogue between the classical Mediterranean that surrounded him and their calligraphic transcription.
Untitled was executed at the height of Twombly’s creative involvement with his celebrated series of Blackboard paintings begun in 1966 and named for the grayish ground that resembled the slate of school blackboards. These works marked a significant turn away from his earlier white-ground paintings with their lyrical references to mythology and classical history.
Twombly’s approach to painting and physical gestures was rooted in Abstract Expressionism, such as Jackson Pollock demonstrated in his extraordinary works of the late 1940s where the surface is entirely controlled from edge to edge and corner to corner. Yet Twombly took such notions to unimagined heights.
The work is expressive of both emptiness and fullness. It reflects Twombly’s interest in the fragment, the glyph, the cypher and the impulsive creative gesture as elementary forms or archetypes – things indicative and revealing of something both primordial and innately human.
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