Edwin Parker “Cy” Twombly (1928-2011), born in Lexington, Virginia, was nicknamed “Cy” by his father, after the star baseball pitcher Cy Young (1867-1955).
Twombly began to take private art lessons, with the Catalan modern master Pierre Daura (1896-1976) at the age of 12. Following high school, Twombly began formal art training at SMFA Boston. In 1950, he moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League, where he met Robert Rauschenberg, who became his best friend and encouraged him to attend Black Mountain College in North Carolina. It was at Black Mountain College Twombly learned from Franz Kline's black-and-white gestural expressionism, and was greatly influenced by poet Charles Olson, who encouraged his interest in ancient civilization and mythology.
In 1952, Twombly traveled to Europe and North Africa with Rauschenberg. Inspired by art, culture and history in Europe, Twombly broadened his horizons. Upon their return, two artists exhibited their works at Stable Gallery in New York, which resulted in a negative response from the public. ‘Except for several artists, almost all the people panned their works,’ mentioned Eleanor Ward, gallery director, in an interview.
In the following years, Twombly worked in both New York and Rome, and he finally chose to move to Rome, where he got married to a local artist in 1957. Twombly began to merge the legacy of American abstract expressionism with the origins of Mediterranean culture during this period of time.
Critical reception of his work became more positive in the 1980s, and in his later years Museum of Art (Kunsthaus Zurich), MoMA and Tate Modern had mounted a retrospective of his work. Spending a large part of his life in Rome, Twombly, who had suffered from cancer for several years, died in 2011 at the age of 83, and His death was announced by the Gagosian Gallery, which represents his work.
Twombly is unanimously considered to be one of the greatest American painters of the second half of the 20th century, whose distinctive aesthetic is both a continuation of Abstract Expressionist techniques and internationalized contemporary art. His blackboard painting 'Untitled (New York City)' from 1968 was the top lot in the Contemporary Art Evening Auction selling for 70.53 million USD, and is also the most expensive work sold at Sotheby's worldwide in 2015.
Centre Georges-Pompidou is presenting a retrospective of the work of Cy Twombly. This exceptionally vast exhibition will only be shown in Paris from November 30st, 2016 to April 24th, 2017, and will feature remarkable loans from private and public collections from all over the world, including 140 paintings, sculptures, drawings and photographs.
by YiART assistant editor, Elsa Kang
February , 2017
1. Cy Twombly : Blooming, 2001-2008. Image Courtesy Centre Pompidou / Cy Twombly Foundation.
2. Centre Pompidou. Image Courtesy Hervé Véronèse / Cy Twombly Foundation.
3. Cy Twombly : Leda and the Swan, 1962. Photograph taken at MoMA.