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Cy Twombly

/Works and biography

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Untitled, 1961
Oil paint, crayon and lead pencil on canvas, 133.4 x 151.1 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof Collection, bequest of Hannelore B. Schulhof, 2012
2012.98
© Cy Twombly Foundation


From childhood Twombly drew inspiration from Greek and Roman history and mythology. After settling in Italy in 1957, he was in direct contact with the classical world, the visual complexity of which he reinvented in his art as a means of self-discovery. Untitled recalls an ancient wall mural inhabited by elements plucked from both historic and personal memory. The cream-primed ground, symbolic of innocence and clarity, is filled with dabs and scribbles that are at once irrational and automatic yet controlled, lingering on the border between calligraphy and figuration. Applied with sensuous immediacy, they are traces of a dialogue between the romanticized iconography of the past and modern pictorial traditions, such as the lyrical gestures of Abstract Expressionism. While some signs are corporeal, even erotic, others, such as the gridded window, are symbols of logical reality.

credits: Hangar Design Group