Cy Twombly: Scratching and Scribbling to the Heights of Abstract Expressionism

Cy Twombly, 2005

Wilder Shores of Love, Bassano in Teverina, 1985

Ferragosto IV, 1961

School of Athens, 1964

Lepanto, 2001

Cy Twombly: Scratching and Scribbling to the Heights of Abstract Expressionism

Cy Twombly (1928-2011), whose spare, delicate scratching and scribbling, odd marks, raw smudges, and gorgeous visceral color with intimations of myth, narrative and poetic engagement with antiquity left him often ignored by the movements of postwar American art, even as he eventually became one of the era’s most significant painters, died on Tuesday in Rome. He was 83.

His artistic career roguishly subverted Abstract Expressionism, dipped briefly into Minimalism, barely acknowledged Pop art, but anticipated some of the concerns of Conceptualism, Mr. Twombly was a polarizing figure in the art world almost from the beginning. His work has been described by one important art curator as “influential among artists, discomfiting to many critics and truculently difficult not just for a broad public, but for sophisticated initiates of postwar art as well.”

Twombly left New York City and moved permanently to southern Italy in 1957 and paid little heed to his many critics, who questioned constantly whether his work really deserved a place at the forefront of 20th century abstraction. The low point for Twombly probably came after a widely panned 1964 exhibition in New York, which one critic described as a blatant fiasco. However, he lived long enough to see his work receive new-found attention and a degree of critical favor he had never enjoyed before. By the 1990s, he had become highly sought after not only by European museums and collectors, who had appreciated his work early on, but also by those back in the United States who had not known what to make of him two decades before.

During the final decade of his life, Twombly surpassed his earlier body of work, making tremendous late abstract works telling tales of ancient armies, otherworldly invasions of burning suns and radiating chrysanthemums. His works from this later period invoked twelfth-century dynasties, exoduses, love, loss and longing. He had launched upon a creative journey to some artistic place where the deepest of feelings, experiences, expectations, dreams, and love become one.

Read more about Cy Twombly in The New York Times here.

Tributes Flow After Death of Artist Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly: Lepanto-Cycle at Museum Brandhorst, Munich

Slide Show: Cy Twombly/Scribbling to the Heights of Abstract Expressionism

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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