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MOCA – Cy Twombly Tribute

September 3, 2011 Art, Contemporary No Comments

Emily gazing at Twombly’s Untitled, 1972. Oil paint, wax crayon, and lead pencil on canvas, 79 5/8 x 102 1/2 in.

Copy + Paste from MOCA:

Cy Twombly (b. 1928, Lexington, Virginia; d. 2011, Rome) was one of the masters of postwar painting, and his work has played a critical role in the international development of contemporary art. This exhibition, featuring works from the Broad Collection, spans the six decades of his career, tracing the evolution of his unique and highly personal visual language. When Twombly began painting in the early 1950s, Abstract Expressionism was the dominant aesthetic. Interested in cultivating the legacy of that movement, unlike contemporaries such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, he pursued a style that combined elements of abstraction, drawing, and writing and privileged the physical gesture of the artist’s hand over the representation of objects. “Each line is now the actual experience with its own innate history,” said the artist. “It does not illustrate—it is the sensation of its own realization.”

Twombly came to New York in 1950 to study at the Art Students League, where he met Rauschenberg, who encouraged him to attend the small progressive art school Black Mountain College. Twombly enrolled there in 1952, working alongside artists including Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell as he continued to cultivate his expressive “handwriting” style. He began to integrate chalk, pencil, and crayon into his works, blurring the line between drawing and painting. Twombly was also employed by the United States Army as a cryptologist during the mid-1950s, and his interest in codes and symbols is evident in the development of his mark-making, which is often calligraphic, at times resembling an accumulation of graffiti.

In 1957, Twombly moved to Rome, where he resided for most of his life. There, his work began to bridge literary and painterly sensibilities, linking contemporary art to a rich cultural past of antiquity and Romanticism. Paintings of the 1960s, such as Untitled (Rome) (1961), made after the birth of his son, and Ilium (One Morning Ten Years Later) [Part I] (1964), are suffused with references to poetry, Mediterranean history, and mythology. In 1971, Nini Pirandello, the wife of Twombly’s Roman gallerist Plinio De Martiis, died suddenly. In tribute, Twombly painted the elegiac Nini’s Painting. Over the last decade, Twombly began revisiting the heroic scale of his 1950s works, making a body of paintings, including Untitled (from Blooming, A Scattering of Blossoms & Other Things) (2007) (the exhibition’s title references this work), which is among the most gestural, immersive, and explosively colorful in his career.

Link: MOCA

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