Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Property from a European Collection
Christie's is honored to present an important collection of works by Cy Twombly from one of the most informed collections of contemporary art in Europe. Representing the best examples of the artist's work from four decades this grouping superbly demonstrates Twombly's deep appreciation for mark making. Inspired by ancient graffiti he saw on trips he made to Europe and North Africa in the early1950s, Twombly became fascinated by man's constant search for his place in time and became profoundly interested in antiquity and classical civilization. He has consequently spent much of his career refining the fundamental art of making a mark, which resulted in some of the most exciting and intoxicating work produced in Europe during the Post-War period.
Untitled (1971), to be offered in Christie's November 10th 2010 Post-War and Contemporary Evening sale, is a magnificent painting on paper, a supreme example of Twombly's flowing and calligraphic style. Beginning in 1966 the artist began a series of striking works in which he started using monochromatic grey grounds as the basis of his work. His resulting Blackboard series contains some of the most celebrated works of his career, and the present lot is a superb example of the rich intermingling layers which characterize this period. Beginning with liberated swirls of wax crayon, Twombly then covers these with a layer of translucent grey house paint. Then, using the end of his wooden paintbrush, Twombly scrapes through the paint layer to reveal briefly the marks that lie underneath. This alternation between the visible and the hidden, the clear and the concealed is one of the unifying themes of Twombly's work.
To accompany this masterwork, the November 11th sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art is proud to present a further selection of works which represent three of the most important decades in Twombly's career. Untitled (1953) has strong connections with the artist's first trip to North Africa the previous year. On a beige background, Twombly laid down a series of exquisitely delicate marks that begin to coalesce into a horizon line, emerging mirage-like from the surface of the paper. Four years later, when he drew Untitled (1957) a greater physicality had entered his work. Twombly had begun using his barehands as direct instruments in his image, forging a more immediate connection between the artist and the mark on the paper. This results in a more physical and sensual work, characterized by a greater range of depth and color.
A decade later, these physical forces are still present in Untitled (1971), a dramatic and engrossing work related to Twombly's celebrated Bolsena series. Sharing the same internal struggle between opposing forces as its older sibling, the work mixes geometric shapes, erotic forms, words and numbers, all fighting for supremacy in the maelstrom of Twombly's ever energetic works. Finally, Untitled (Captiva) is the forerunner for an important series of works the artist embarked on in 1975 which featured Greek gods represented by sheets of collaged paper bearing an energetic flourish of color to signify the creative spirit of the artist.
Twombly's unique language of simplified gestures and forms, represented in all these outstanding works, alludes to a higher state of being, transcending the finite realism of pictorial materiality. Such indecipherable and delicate marks are rich with lyrical gestures and sweeping movements which reach out across the surface, evoking a landscape strewn with the detritus of subconscious thoughts over time. Simultaneously, Twombly imbues in his art a deeper, more enigmatic rhetoric of meaning and associations that we may only fleetingly touch upon as an insight into the ever elusive artist's mind.