Cy Twombly

Nationality : American

Birth Year : 1928

Death Year : 2011

Place of Birth : Lexington, VA

Specialities : Modern Art

Biography

Occupation: Painter
Movement: Abstract Expressionism
Education: School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Students League of New York; Black Mountain College
Famous Artworks
“Leda and the Swan,” 1962
“Quattro Stagioni: Primavera,” 1994
“The Four Seasons,” 1994
“Death of Pompei,” 1962
“Poem to the Sea,”I 1959
“Untitled,” 1969
“Untitled (Rome),” 1964
“Untitled (New York City),” 1968
Edwin Parker Twombly Jr. was an American artist whose Abstract Expressionist signature lay in “mark-making” through practices of graffiti and calligraphy against color-neutral backgrounds.
Early Life
Twombly was born in Lexington, Virginia in 1928. His father, with whom he shares his name, was a baseball player and sports coach. His family was both liberal and financially secure enough for young Twombly to receive private painting classes and lectures on art history by Spanish artist Pierre Duara.
After graduating from Lexington High School in 1946, Twombly enrolled at the Darlington School in Georgia. He spent the following summer at an art colony in Maine and, in the fall of 1947, enrolled at the Museum School in Boston. After finishing his initial apprenticeships, in 1950, Twombly attended the Art Students League of New York on a tuition scholarship. The institution was easily the world center of Abstract Expressionism at the time and he was exposed to both the works and personalities of critical darlings Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline.
From 1951 to 1952, Twombly attended the now defunct Black Mountain College in North Carolina, studying under Robert Motherwell as well as rector Charles Olson, whose fascination for classic, emblematic imagery held some influence.
The Influence of Travel
Twombly’s first exhibition took place at the Kootz Gallery in New York. The show was enough of a success for him to receive a travel grant from the Richmond Museum of Fine Arts in Virginia, and in 1952, he set off for Rome and Morocco with his friend and fellow Expressionist Robert Rauschenberg. It is unsurprising that he would choose to visit places of historical interest, as his work often alludes to a longing for times past.
Even though journeying through northern Africa was Rauschenberg’s plan, the tour affected Twombly on a deeper level than he expected. He returned with drawings of ethnic patterns and intricate studies of materials, producing highly emotive canvasses whose titles referred directly to his travels.
Having encountered cultural differences for the first time and in reaction to the biases and superstitions about left and right, Twombly began limiting the movement of his hands while painting, pretending it was his left instead of his right. This was an act that ran parallel to Surrealist ideas — by refusing to make use of his own technical skill, he eliminated control of his own creation.
The Transatlantic Move
Twombly was drafted into the army in 1953 where he worked as a cryptologist, often working in the dark. It was during this time that he held a joint exhibition in New York’s Stable Gallery with Rauschenberg, which was critically panned as one of the poorest shows of the season. He remained true to his muse though, and defiantly added an expletive or two to mostly abstract paintings.
In 1957, he moved to Rome where he met and later married Tatiana Franchetti, an Italian artist and baroness. He settled in a villa on the Via di Monserrato and spent much of his time by the coastline, painting the Mediterranean without a shade of blue. His work at this period is marked by its minimalism and evocativeness.
Over the next decade, Twombly focused on many literary and mythical subjects. A grand lyricism appeared amongst erotic and earthly representations. Between 1967 and 1971, he produced a series on gray grounds that appear to be abrupt, colorless scribbles like that of chalk on a blackboard. But the words themselves are illusory.
Life and Legacy
Despite being compared with Rauschenberg and printmaking artist Jasper Johns Jr., Twombly was distinct in his own right. His craft of “mark making” has been described as primitive with powerful elements of myth and storytelling interweaved in them. After settling in Italy in the late 1950s, Twombly moved away from Expressionism towards large-scale, romantic symbolism.
Twombly was given several awards and honors, most notably the Praemium Imperiale in 1996, the Golden Lion at the 49th Venice Biennale, and the title of Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur by the government of France in 2010.
After a long fight with cancer, Twombly died at a hospital in Rome in 2011. He was 83 years old. His art is permanently housed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.
Timeline
1928  -  Born in Virginia
1948  -  Begins studying at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts
1951  -  Joins the Arts Students League of New York
1952  -  Receives a grant from the Richmond Art Museum
1957  -  Moves to Rome and marries Baroness Tatiana Franchetti
2011  -  Awarded the Leone d’Oro at the Venice Biennale
Major Exhibitions
1951  -  Kootz Gallery, New York
1960  -  Leo Castelli, New York
1973  -  Kunsthalle Bern
1977  -  Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne
1998  -  Gagosian Gallery, LosAngeles
2000  -  National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
2002  -  Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
2008  -  Tate Modern, London
2012  -  Gagosian Gallery, New York
2013  -  Galrie Karsten Greve, Paris
Museums / Collections
Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art
Art Institute of Chicago
Guggenheim Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Tate Gallery, London
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Reina Sofia National Museum, Madrid
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Books / Publications
“Coronation of Sesostris” by Patricia Waters and David Shapiro
“The Essential Cy Twombly” by Laszlo Glozer and Thierry Greub
“Cy Twombly: Paradise” by Julie Sylvester and Patrick Charpenel
 
 
 
 
 
 

See More Lots FOR FREE
at Blouin Art Sales Index
ART PRICES

LOT SOLD (1990 - 2009)

1079

MAX PRICE

$7,750,000

AVG PRICE

$1,984,509

TOTAL SALES (1990 - 2009)

$93,271,956

 8 Odi di Orazio: seven plates by Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly

8 Odi di Orazio: seven plates

Phillips, London

January 21, 2016

$49,760  USD

 Natural History Part I by Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly

Natural History Part I

Il Ponte, Via Pontaccio, Milan

December 16, 2015

$5,696  USD

 Untitled by Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly

Untitled

Koller Auktionen, Zurich

December 4, 2015

 USD

 Natural History Part I - Mushrooms (No. VI) by Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly

Natural History Part I - Mushrooms (No. VI)

Ketterer Kunst, Munich

December 3, 2015

$8,736  USD

 Natural History Part I - Mushrooms (No. VI) by Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly

Natural History Part I - Mushrooms (No. VI)

Ketterer Kunst, Munich

December 3, 2015

$7,508  USD

 Natural History Part I - Mushrooms (No. II) by Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly

Natural History Part I - Mushrooms (No. II)

Ketterer Kunst, Munich

December 3, 2015

$7,508  USD

 Natural History Part I - Mushrooms (No. III) by Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly

Natural History Part I - Mushrooms (No. III)

Ketterer Kunst, Munich

December 3, 2015

$7,508  USD

 Sarajevo by Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly

Sarajevo

Est-Ouest Auctions, Hong Kong

November 30, 2015

$3,958  USD

 San titre / Untitled by Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly

San titre / Untitled

Est-Ouest Auctions, Hong Kong

November 30, 2015

$2,740  USD

NEWS

6 Historical Shows That Mattered in 2015

By BLOUIN ARTINFO | December 29, 2015

Museums from New York to Kiev staged historic exhibitions this year, at times radically reevaluating the past’s claims on the present, and ARTINFO was there for most of them. A Cy Twombly...

The Power 100 of 2015: Part I

By Art+Auction | December 21, 2015

The bios and essays in Art+Auction’s guide to notable players in the art world will be rolled out on ARTINFO over the course of the next two weeks. Here, we present Part One. Click here for an...

Sotheby's Taps Fashion Creatives for Preview Exhibition of its Prints and Multiples Auction

By Michelle Tay | November 19, 2015

The creative directors of fashion labels Public School & DKNY have curated a selection of works that will preview Sotheby’s Prints & Multiples auction in New York on November 23 and...

Sotheby’s Reassuring $294M Contemporary Evening Sale

By Judd Tully | November 12, 2015

The contemporary art market settled down to a steadier pace at Sotheby’s New York Wednesday evening, turning in a solid and respectable $294,850,000 sale for the 44 lots that sold. Ten of...

On the Block: Major November Sales at Sotheby's, Christie's, and Phillips

By Judd Tully,Art+Auction | October 26, 2015

Change is in the air and on the ground as auction giant Christie’s redraws the salesroom boundaries of 20th-century art, in the process upending years of evening sale categories identical to...

Must-See Works at Frieze London 2015

By Martin Gayford | October 16, 2015

LONDON — I don’t know what the actual acreage of Frieze is, but — even with map in hand — it’s not hard to get disorientated. One finds oneself slipping into a time warp, wandering for hours and...

    View More
SLIDESHOWS

6 Historic Shows That Mattered in 2015

By BLOUIN ARTINFO | December 21, 2015

Cy Twombly Photos at American Academy in Rome

By Nicholas Forrest | October 14, 2015

Cy Twombly at Gagosian Gallery London

By Nicholas Forrest | October 9, 2015

Top 5 Tokyo Shows this Summer

By Darryl Jingwen Wee | July 27, 2015

Cy Twombly's Paradise at Ca' Pesaro

By Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop | June 11, 2015

Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale

By Regina Mogilevskaya | May 11, 2015

    View More
GALLERIES