178
178
Cy Twombly
UNTITLED
Estimate
500,000700,000
LOT SOLD. 615,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
178
Cy Twombly
UNTITLED
Estimate
500,000700,000
LOT SOLD. 615,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York

Cy Twombly
1928 - 2011
UNTITLED
signed twice, dated 1961 twice and inscribed Roma twice
pencil and wax crayon on paper
27 1/2 by 39 3/8 in. 70 by 100 cm.
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This work will be included in the Addenda to the Catalogue Raisonné of Cy Twombly Drawings, edited by Nicola Del Roscio.

Provenance

Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
Private Collection, Belgium (acquired from the above circa 1963)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Catalogue Note

Exploding with frenzied marks and visceral power, Untitled from 1961 signposts Cy Twombly’s full immersion into the ancient splendor of the city of Rome. After marrying Tatiana Franchetti in 1957, he left the United States for Italy, abandoning New York, the capital of the contemporary art world, for Rome, a decadent city that was rising from the ashes of the Second World War and which held an irresistible charm for the young Twombly. In 1961 he set up his studio in the lively neighborhood of Campo de’ Fiori, which became his preferred working place for the next five years. As the artist stated in an interview with Nicholas Serota in December 2007, “I was mainly interested in the country and the life and the people, more than Rome even, I mean the balance of life was like a dream, everything was functioning in the most natural way” (the artist in Michael Schagerl and Alfred Burian, Cy Twombly: Cycle and Seasons, London 2008, p. 45). In a city where past and present coexist in its architecture, language and lifestyle, he found a new home as well as a source of endless artistic inspiration. Executed four years after Twombly had permanently settled there, the present work delivers the full force of Twombly’s reflective integration of his encompassing experience and aesthetic absorption of the Eternal City.

Twombly’s move to Italy coincided with his growing reputation as an artist. After Leo Castelli added Twombly to his stable of artists in 1958, Twombly established himself as one of the first American painters to champion Abstract Expressionism in Europe. Giorgio Franchetti, one of the main promoters of Post-War American art in Rome, introduced Twombly to the city’s artistic circles. Through Franchetti, Twombly met and interacted with the preeminent Italian avant-gardists, including Afro, Piero Dorazio, Toti Scialoja, Conrad Marca-Relli, Giorgio de Chirico and Salvatore Scarpitta, with whom he shared a studio in 1957. As the art critic Cesare Vivaldi stated, “the first paintings and drawings Cy brought from New York startled and impressed all those who had the chance of seeing them, mainly because of that poetic, but almost merciless way in which the extreme conclusions of both action painting and Neo-Dadaism were drawn” (Cesare Vivaldi in Kirk Varnedoe, Cy Twombly: A Retrospective, New York 1994, p. 26).

Hugely influenced by the artistic splendor of ancient Rome and the avant-garde spirit of his Italian contemporaries, Twombly’s style became increasingly colorful, visceral and complex. The monochromatic paintings from his Lexington series evolved to frenetic sequences of pencil drawings and vivid pastel strokes. In Untitled, graphite scribbles, geometric shapes, handwritten numbers and crossed-out words rush across the paper, mediated by intermittent waves and arches. Every mark, shape, word or number seems to be suspended amidst the sheet’s whiteness, fragments waiting to be given a purpose. The composition resists any structural or narrative organization; the pencil work breathes life to the sheet of paper, leaving traces that travel across the white plane, showing no signs of stopping at its edges. It is in this spontaneity that Untitled captivates its audience. We are invited to decipher the myriad lines and shapes, and to uncover their significance. The artist’s hand urgently traces everything that his sight and mind are experiencing, in a creative frenzy that acknowledges no boundaries between line and form, figuration and abstraction.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York