Despite their unkempt and scrawled appearance, the lines in Untitled, 1971, have a formal and rhythmic character. This strange relationship between order and chaos, between writing and illegible scribbles, cuts to the heart of Twombly's work. The lines appear like writing, indeed like poetry with their ordered layout, and yet in fact cannot be read at all. The information contained within them is limited, and in fact is a microcosm for the artistic process itself - Twombly is the only person who can truly 'read' the lines, recall his state at the time of execution, and yet the viewer can see the result of his gesture. These illegible lines are the documentation of his existence and of his art. Twombly himself stated:
"Each line now is the actual experience with its own innate history. It does not illustrate - it is the sensation of its own realization. The imagery is one of the private or separate indulgencies rather than an abstract totality of visual perception [...] it is an involvement in essence (no matter how private) into a synthesis of feeling, intellect etc. occurring without separation in the impulse of action." (C. Twombly, in: Cy Twombly: A Retrospective, ed. K. Varnedoe, exh.cat., New York, 1994, p.27.)
Thus Untitled is the trace and the vestige of Twombly's mood during the time in which he created this work. These lines are an arcane record of his emotional state, a visual idiom that appears untrained and yet was in fact the result of long study and dedication. Indeed, Twombly would stay up at night scribbling in the dark, 'untraining' his hand movements, trying to eradicate any trace of letters or figuration in his scrawl so that the line would become an autonomous and true record of his state.
Untitled invokes the artistic continuity so vital to Twombly's mind and thought. Ever since visiting Rome with Robert Rauschenberg in the 1950s, Twombly became increasingly interested in art's role in history. Untitled recalls the ancient Roman graffiti so prevalent in the old parts of the Italian capital. In this context, it is a continuation of a millenia-old tradition of abstract expressionism and gestural art. Later, Twombly also became increasingly interested in the works of Leonardo da Vinci, and especially his Codices. These albums of the great Renaissance artist and inventor's sketches and thoughts are filled with his almost unreadable, ferocious mirror-writing, Leonardo's own code. In this he catalogued the fruits of his curiosity, bridging the gap between the reason and mathematics of his inventions, and the personality behind them. Likewise, Untitled appears both logical yet furiously emotional, poetic yet ordered, an unfettered exploration of the area between inspiration and reason.