Cy Twombly
UNTITLED 
Estimate
700,000900,000
LOT SOLD. 2,633,750 GBP (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT
Cy Twombly
UNTITLED 
Estimate
700,000900,000
LOT SOLD. 2,633,750 GBP (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London

Cy Twombly
1928 - 2011
UNTITLED 
signed on the reverse
pencil, wax crayon and acrylic on paper
69.5 by 98.5 cm. 27 3/8 by 38 3/4 in.
Executed in 1963.
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Provenance

Private Collection, Rome

Acquired from the above by the present owner 

Exhibited

Milan, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Cy Twombly: 50 Disegni 1953-1980, October - November 1980, n.p., illustrated in colour

Literature

Nicola Del Roscio, Cy Twombly Drawings: Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. 3, 1961-1963, New York 2013, p. 172, no. 240, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Twombly's ambitious Untitled from 1963 invokes an aesthetic grandeur that is utterly irresistible. Centred on the theme of Eros, the present work delivers an exceptional dialectic between the classical and the transgressive. Steeped in his erudite knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman literature, Untitled bespeaks Twombly’s renowned dialogue with the classical past, the loves of the gods and the mythical formation of ancient civilisation. Executed in 1963, six years after he had permanently settled in Rome, the present work signifies a critical moment in the development of Twombly’s mature practice. Indeed, Untitled delivers the full force of the artist's reflective integration of his encompassing experience and aesthetic absorption of Rome, combining a transcription of immediate lived experience with a fresh reinterpretation of the classical past.

In early 1960 Twombly and his family had moved into a grand new home on the Via di Monserrato in Rome. His everyday life was infused with the antiquarian splendour and colourful sights and smells of the classically Arcadian Roman campagna. Denoting a movement away from the measured rhythm of the artist’s earlier 1950s production, the present work signals an urgent and fractured transmutation of classical stimuli and the mythologically evocative Roman landscape. Through sinuous lines, urgent scrawls, frenetic numbers, and expressive bursts of colour, Untitled enunciates a fragmented vision and reimagining of the ancient myths that permeate the culture of this historic city. Untitled broadcasts Twombly's staggering innovation and inimitable abstract aesthetic through its visceral imagery, compositional economy, and graphic intelligence, traits that intriguingly appear both instinctive and seemingly arbitrary.

Twombly's work in the 1960s investigates the process of drawing, which veers towards - and eventually becomes - an exploration of signs and writing. As Untitled beautifully testifies, the artist analyses the nature of visual cognition and communication by investigating semiotic sign systems: by experimenting with indeterminate iconography he questions the assumptions of conventional visual vocabularies, frames of reference, and sign systems. Consequently, as the renowned critic and philosopher Roland Barthes comments, "What happens on the stage Twombly offers us (whether it is canvas or paper) is something which partakes of several kinds of event" (Roland Barthes cited in: Exh. Cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Cy Twombly: Paintings and Drawings 1954-1977, 1979, p. 9). As with Twombly's best output Untitled mediates the boundary between figuration and abstraction, continually enticing the viewer with implied meaning and challenging the cognitive deductions inherent to signifier-referent equations. Although Twombly interrogates the ways in which artistic transactions function, this work also initiates a powerful visual effect.

In spite of Twombly's graphic reduction, the present work brims with an abundance of energy and intense complexity. We are invited to contemplate whether, buried within his drawing are hidden messages designed for our dissection. Mediating a space between spontaneity and control, his scribbles are full of suggestive details but remain irresolute. With its colourful lines whose steady, progressive rise and fall insists on their attachment to the constraint of writing, Twombly reveals his interest in measurements and rhythms. Unique to the artists approach is a myriad of esoteric cultural references that serve to communicate an interpretation of poetry, mythology, history and modernity, of which the present work is a consummate example.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London