Cy Twombly 1928-2011


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Cy Twombly was an American artist known for his large-scale, gestural and graffiti-like canvases painted on grey or off-white backgrounds. Twombly attended a series of schools, including the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1948-49), Washington and Lee University (1949-50) and the Art Student League of New York (1950-51). At the Art Student League, he met Robert Rauschenberg, who encouraged him to study at Black Mountain College. Twombly took his advice and enrolled there the following year, later studying with Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell and Ben Shahn.


In 1951, Twombly held his first solo exhibition at Samuel M. Kootz Gallery in New York. The exhibition gained attention from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which provided him with a grant to study in North Africa, Spain, Italy and France in 1952. Upon completion of his travels, Twombly moved to New York in 1955 and shared a studio with Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. During that time, he created sculptures, paintings inspired by Primitivism and a series influenced by classical mythology accompanied by words. In a catalogue produced in 2011 for the Dulwich Picture Galley exhibition, author Katharina Schmidt summarized the artist's creative progression: "Twombly's special medium is writing. Starting out from purely graphic marks, he developed a kind of meta-script in which abbreviated signs, hatchings, loops, numbers and the simplest of pictographs spread throughout the picture plane...this eventually metamorphosed into script itself."


In 1957, Twombly moved to Rome, where worked there until he died in 2011. Later the same year, his work Untitled (1967) sold for a record $15.2 million at Christie's New York. His prices steadily climbed from 2012 to 2013 reaching $19.2 million, but his highest record was in 2014, with the sale of his work Untitled (1970) for $62 million.


Cy Twombly has work featured in the permanent collections of the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, the MCA in Los Angeles, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the San Francisco MoMA, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Museum Brandhorst in Müchen, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the MoMA in New York and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.


Related Categories: Black Mountain College, Calligraphic, Art of the 1960s, Post-War American Art, Text, Related to Literature, Abstract Painting, Splattered/Dripped, Gestural, Line, Form and Color.