Cy Twombly: Sculptures
(Through March 2013)
Philadelphia, PA (June 2012)—A suite of six bronze sculptures, the last installation of this type planned by the late artist Cy Twombly (1928-1911), is now on view in the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art where it can be seen through the coming year. Dating from 1979 to 2011, the artist selected these works for display in the building’s atrium in close collaboration with Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art, before the artist’s death last July. All works are on loan to the Museum from the Cy Twombly Foundation.
“These eloquent and imposing works are a meditation on the relationship between classical history and modern art and reflect the artist’s deep affection for antiquity. This engagement with the past not only sets him apart from other artists of his generation, but is also a key to understanding his unique and enduring artistic voice,” said Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Twombly specifically selected the sculptures to resonate with his epic painting series in ten parts, Fifty Days at Iliam (1978), which has been on display in the Museum’s main building since 1989 and is one of the Museum’s masterpieces of modern and contemporary art.
“Cy was very precise in his choices for the display of these works, including their sequence and location,” said Carlos Basualdo, the Keith and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art, who met with the artist numerous times to plan the installation. “It gives the Museum’s audiences the unique opportunity to admire two complementary aspects of Twombly’s extraordinary work—his paintings and his sculptures.”
While well known as a painter, Twombly was an accomplished and extraordinarily influential sculptor. The white-washed bronze sculptures presented in the exhibition have surfaces that are richly inflected by the casting process. They also vary in size and imagery, each including motifs found in Fifty Days at Illiam (Galleries 184 and 185, Main Building). With the Trojan War as their subject, both the paintings and the bronze sculptures allude to ancient combats: to chariots, sitting still or ferociously charging; to the rising sun before the conflict begins; and to he sunset, which falls equally on the victorious and the defeated.
About the artist: Cy Twombly (1928–2011) was born in Lexington, Virginia before attending the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1947-49), Art Students League, New York (1950-51), and Black Mountain College, North Carolina (1951-52). Creating poetic and allusive objects that take cues from both the Dada movement and the work of Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, Twombly simultaneously insisted on serene white surfaces and the remote worlds of myth and the ancient past.
In 1989, the Philadelphia Museum of Art became the first public institution in the United Sates to devote a room to the permanent display of Twombly’s work.
Twombly’s work has been the subject of numerous retrospectives at venues such as Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris (1988), Museum of Modern Art in New York (1994), Tate Modern in London (2008), and Art Institute of Chicago (2009). In 1995, the Cy Twombly Gallery opened in Houston, exhibiting works made by the artist after 1954. Twombly died in 2011 in Rome.