In 1952 Twombly received a grant from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts that enabled him to travel to various foreign countries in Europe and Africa. It was during this early period in his career that he traveled to North Africa with his close friend and contemporary, Robert Rauschenberg. This experience is said to be one of the central experiences of Twombly's life, personally and artistically.
Untitled (Off Africa) is Twombly's whimsical homage to his travels in North Africa. Drawn in 1960, this work is a combination of Twombly's nondescript graffiti coexisting with a figurative landscape. Drawn on perforated paper and torn out of a sketchbook, this work reads like an impromptu site sketch where the various figurations come together to form a busy landscape.
Following Twombly's move to Rome in 1957, his work shifted from the Abstract Expressionist roots that had informed his earlier style to a looser, more open method that would come to be known as his signature style. This technique, of slightly more literal, loosely integrated lines, scribbles, text, combined with the occasional punch of color, can already be seen in the present work. Here, Twombly depicts his fleeting romance with the African continent, creating a forward motion by dotting the paper with various spontaneous pink and crimson hearts and smudges.