For me, when I think of Cy Twombly, I always think of his paintings. But he was a fantastic sculptor and I wanted to share his work with you in this post! The sculpture is as abstract as his paintings. Abstract expressionism is not always so clearly “acceptable” as the forms are not always as identifiable as say looking at an impressionist painting.
Emerging from the New York art world of the early 1950s, Cy Twombly brought a distinctive approach to painting and sculpture that evaded precise affiliation with the predominant movements of the twentieth century, including Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Minimalism. Inspired by ancient Mediterranean history and geography,
Greek and Roman mythology, and epic poetry, Twombly created—sometimes on a grand scale, in multiple-panel works—a sometimes-inscrutable world of iconography, metaphor, and myth. The breadth of Twombly’s imagination and his interdisciplinary approach to subjects traverse vast distances,
resulting in works that are at once baroque and spare, modern and ancient
Born in Lexington, Virginia in 1928, Edwin Parker Twombly Jr. (known by his father’s nickname, Cy) grew up as a quiet child with artistic inclinations. As a boy he was a voracious reader, checking out books from the Washington and Lee University library; he also ordered art kits from the Sears & Roebuck catalogue.
private art lessons with the Spanish modern master Pierre Daura, who had moved to the U.S. following the outbreak of World War II.
In 1948 Twombly attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, developing an interest in aspects of Dada and Surrealism, especially the art of Kurt Schwitters and Alberto Giacometti. After a year at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, he moved to New York City to study at the Art Students’ League,
where he first met Robert Rauschenberg. Encouraged by his fellow artist, Twombly enrolled in Black Mountain College near Ashville, North Carolina, where he studied under Franz Kline, Ben Shahn, and Robert Motherwell (who soon came to consider Twombly “the most accomplished young painter and one of the most ‘natural’ artists of his generation”).
That same year, Twombly had his first solo show in New York, at the Kootz Gallery; some saw in Twombly’s work an affinity with Kline’s black-and-white gestural expressionism and with Paul Klee’s innocent, childlike imagery.
Seeking to “experience European cultural climates both intellectual and aesthetic,” as he wrote in his grant application, Twombly was awarded a travel fellowship by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 1952, and, with Rauschenberg, set off for North African, Spain and Italy. Twombly would later write of his journeys that the experience was “like finding many wonderful rooms in a house that you never knew existed.” For the rest of the 1950s, Twombly traveled back and forth between New York and Italy, making art; he also served in the U.S. Army as a cryptologist.
Twombly settled in Rome at the end of the decade and began exhibiting his paintings and sculptures throughout Europe, where he achieved the degree of renown accorded his closest contemporaries back in the U.S., Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. He has passed this year.
So when you see one of his scribble paintings, also remember his talent for sculpture!