To my mind, one does not put oneself in place of the past; one only adds a new link.
Cy Twombly (1928–2011) developed a gestural vocabulary in which each line and color is infused with energy, spirituality, and meaning. Emerging as a prominent figure in the mid-1950s following extensive travels throughout Europe and North Africa, he produced works that are simultaneously personal and mythological, allowing narrative, language, and inner visions to erupt from his intimate, abstract notations.
Twombly was born in 1928 in Lexington, Virginia, and studied art in Boston and New York, then at Black Mountain College in North Carolina in the early 1950s. Although he was a contemporary of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, his work soon digressed from the aims of American postwar abstraction. While prevailing tendencies of the period, such as Pop art, sought to abandon historical narratives altogether, Twombly directed his focus toward ancient, classical, and modern poetic traditions. In the late 1950s he moved to Italy, where he produced colorful, diagrammatic works, such as Ode to Psyche (1960), that feature erotic allusions and sly jokes while maintaining an abstract charge. Shortly thereafter the sebaceous, bright colors of these works gave way to the more austere grays and blues of the “blackboard” paintings, in which terse, white scrawls and loops recall the powdery effects of chalk on a blackboard. As Twombly continued to work in various locations over the following decades—including Rome, Lexington, and his final residence, in Gaeta, Italy—places, landscapes, and natural forms came to figure prominently in his drawings, collages, photographs, and watercolors.
For Twombly, the poetic and the rational were not mutually exclusive. Collage, which engaged him briefly in 1959, then began to appear more regularly in 1971, allies Twombly to the Dadaists and their descendants, such as Rauschenberg and Johns. Visual information from everyday life—travel postcards, reproductions of paintings, scientific illustrations, personal drawings, and more—entered his work as a way to explore the potential of both structure and meaning.
From his student days on, Twombly also captured his daily life in photographs. He recorded the verdant landscapes of Virginia and the coasts of Italy; close-up details of ancient buildings and sculptures; studio interiors; and still lifes of objects and flowers. Beginning in the early 1990s, he used specialized copiers to enlarge his Polaroid images on matte paper, resulting in subtle distortions that approximate the timeless qualities of his paintings and sculptures.
In 1995 the Cy Twombly Gallery opened across the street from the Menil Collection in Houston. A collaboration between the Menil, Dia Foundation, and Twombly himself, the gallery serves as a permanent home for a number of important works made between 1953 and 2004. Included is the series of paintings Analysis of the Rose as Sentimental Despair (1985), which features floral forms in deep reds, pinks, and purples, with quotations from Rainer Maria Rilke, Rumi, and Giacomo Leopardi. In 2010 Twombly was selected to install a permanent work at the Louvre: a painted ceiling for the Salle des Bronzes. The Ceiling spans 3,750 square feet and pays homage to the greatest Hellenic sculptors, from Phidias to Praxiteles, each of their names inscribed over an immense blue sky populated by floating, cosmic orbs.
In Beauty it is finished: Drawings 1951–2008
March 8–April 25, 2018
West 21st Street, New York
Coronation of Sesostris
March 8–April 28, 2018
980 Madison Avenue, New York
May 25–July 29, 2017
Extended through April 22, 2017
December 1, 2016–April 22, 2017
October 10–December 12, 2015
Grosvenor Hill, London
October 10–December 12, 2015
Davies Street, London
Extended through July 2, 2015
April 23–July 2, 2015
980 Madison Avenue, New York
The Last Paintings
November 1–December 22, 2012
980 Madison Avenue, New York
From the Quarterly
Cy Twombly: In Beauty it is finished
Mark Francis, director of the exhibition Cy Twombly: In Beauty it is finished, Drawings 1951–2008, describes the impetus for this expansive presentation, the source for its title, and details the stories of some of the works on view.
Cy Twombly: Coronation of Sesostris
Cy Twombly’s Coronation of Sesostris (2000) receives a closer look by Gagosian Director, Mark Francis. In this video, he discusses the history of the work, the myths and poetry embedded within it, and considers its lasting impact.
Katharina Grosse reflects on the work of Cy Twombly.
Olivier Berggruen and Mary Jacobus spoke about the works in the inaugural exhibition at Gagosian’s Grosvenor Hill outpost.
Treatise on the Veil: Cy Twombly at the Morgan
On the occasion of the Morgan Library and Museum’s exhibition of Cy Twombly’s monumental painting Treatise on the Veil (1970) and related drawings, Gagosian director Mark Francis speaks with Isabelle Dervaux, Acquavella Curator of Modern & Contemporary Drawings at the Morgan.
Fairs, Events & Announcements
NY Art Book Fair
September 21–23, 2018, project space room, booth S202
MoMA PS1, New York
Gagosian is participating in the NY Art Book Fair 2018 with a special project space conceived in collaboration with choreographer William Forsythe, exploring visual and notational approaches to dance and movement. Forsythe is a radical innovator in choreography and dance who has redefined the very syntax and praxis of his field. In the course of his singular career spanning five decades, he has developed an extensive repertoire of groundbreaking ballet choreographies and experimental, non-proscenium-based dance-theater works, as well as an open-access digital platform for dance analysis, notation, and improvisation.
At the NYABF, printed materials and videos by Forsythe are featured alongside selected Gagosian publications, as well as additional books and ephemera that reveal Forsythe’s wide-ranging influences and interests including Chris Burden, Katharina Grosse, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, and Rachel Whiteread.
William Forsythe, Lectures from Improvisation Technologies, 2011, performed by William Forsythe © William Forsythe
June 14–17, 2018
Messe Basel, booth B11
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel 2018, presenting works by modern and contemporary artists including Georg Baselitz, John Chamberlain, Dan Colen, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellen Gallagher, Jennifer Guidi, Andreas Gursky, Neil Jenney, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse, Takashi Murakami, Giuseppe Penone, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, and Tom Wesselmann. To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org. To preview our booth go to www.artsy.net. To purchase tickets to attend the fair go to www.artbasel.com.
Georg Baselitz, Frau am Strand (Woman on the Beach), 1981 © Georg Baselitz 2018
Art Basel Hong Kong
March 29–31, 2018, booth ICI8
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong. To view highlights from the booth in advance of the fair visit www.artsy.com. Our presentation will include works by Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, Glenn Brown, Alexander Calder, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Edmund De Waal, Jean Dubuffet, Urs Fischer, Lucio Fontana, Walton Ford, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Jia Aili, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Karen Kneffel, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Roy Lichtenstein, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zeng Fanzhi. Tickets are available at www.artbasel.com.
Zeng Fanzhi, 8, 2018 © Zeng Fanzhi 2018
Through October 31, 2018
Château La Coste, Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, France
Cy Twombly: Photographs is comprised of thirty photographs, taken between 1985 and 2008, variously depicting intimate spaces, landscapes, and natural subjects. This exhibition has traveled from the Sursock Museum in Beirut.
Cy Twombly, Untitled, 2002 © Nicola Del Roscio Foundation
Cy Twombly and Greek Antiquity
May 25–September 3, 2017
Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens
Works by Cy Twombly, inspired by Greece and Greek mythology, come together with ancient artworks in this exhibition, curated by Professor Nikolaos Stampolidis, director of the Museum of Cycladic Art, and Jonas Storsve, curator at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and of the recent major Cy Twombly retrospective exhibition.
Cy Twombly, Venus, 1975 © Cy Twombly Foundation
The American Dream
Pop to the Present
March 9–June 18, 2017
British Museum, London
This exhibition traces the past six decades of American history through prints of unprecedented scale and ambition. Starting with the explosion of Pop art in the 1960s, the show includes works by many of America’s most celebrated artists. Works by Helen Frankenthaler, Roy Lichtenstein, Bruce Nauman, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann are on view.
Ed Ruscha, Made in California, 1971 © Ed Ruscha
The Beginning of Everything
Drawings from the Janie C. Lee, Louisa Stude Sarofim, and David Whitney Collections
February 24–June 18, 2017
The Menil Collection, Houston
In anticipation of the October 2017 opening of the Menil Drawing Institute, the museum is exhibiting a selection of drawings spanning the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth century. The show highlights promised gifts from the collections of Janie C. Lee and Louisa Stude Sarofim, as well as works from David Whitney’s 2005 bequest, which include those by Balthus, Georg Baselitz, Helen Frankenthaler, Alberto Giacometti, Anselm Kiefer, Brice Marden, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, and Rachel Whiteread.
Brice Marden, Untitled, 1988–91 © Brice Marden/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York