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Cy Twombly

Fifty Days at Iliam, 1978, by Cy Twombly

(American, 1928–2011)

Emerging in the mid-twentieth century, Cy Twombly developed a signature style that merged the gestural vigor of Abstract Expressionism with poetic allusions to classical art and literature. At first glance, his large-scale canvases appear to be primordial in their scrawls and marks, yet closer inspection reveals the dense reworking of motifs, words, and gestures that make up Twombly’s intensively crafted paintings. Twombly sought to combine the long tradition of classical storytelling with the visually emotive energy of his time, in a series of works that exude vitality and dynamism while recalling the protean and the epic.

Twombly’s sculptures continue his exploration of abstraction and narrative. Made from casting a wide assortment of found objects, his bronze sculptures remain unvarnished and unrefined so that their surfaces bear the traces of their making. Evoking chariots, totems, gravestones, shields, or even natural forms like the setting sun, these sculptures look as if newly excavated from an unknown archeological site. Like his paintings, they elide the past and present, interrogating the nature of history and time.