In 1966 Twombly painted Night Watch (private collection), initiating his celebrated series of 'blackboard paintings,' in which the artist uses chalk or wax crayon to draw on thinly-painted dark or light grounds. "In this series Twombly liberates the mark from the dictates of material--and, for the most part, of the word--and focuses on its extension into line. The corporeal and narrative excesses of the 'red paintings' are gone... Carnal knowledge gives way to a more cerebral kind, frenzy yields to a more deliberate lyricism, as Twombly investigates the way line alone can create and measure illusions of movement and space" (R. Smith, "The Great Mediator," Cy Twombly, Munich, 1987, p. 18).
The present work employs a basic looping gesture of the wrist as the source of its agitated, rhythmic line. Repeated and amplified across four slanting rows from top to bottom, the artist's line vibrates like soundwaves across the sheet, infering writing on a quickly scribbled note, but ultimately remaining non-referential. Although the picture plane is flat, and the act of drawing is the simple application of line to the sheet, an ambiguous illusion of space and distance emerges as the artist's oil-stick passes through varying degrees of wetness and density in the gray paint film as it dried. In this way Twombly ponders the very essence of drawing, in which line, while remaining resolutely itself, is transformed into illusion and meaning.