NEW YORK - “I show things in flux,” said Cy Twombly. It was an uncannily accurate description of his paintings. Twombly’s tense vocabulary of scratches, scribbled lines and smears of pigment was fluid, changeable, at once severe and ornate, elegant and loose, contained and free, painted and drawn. That bundle of traits energises the artist’s so-called Blackboard paintings: rows of irregular, fast-moving white loops, made with oil crayon on a ground of slate-coloured paint. Among the best of this series, Untitled, 1968 [New York City], is coming to auction at Sotheby’s this November.


CY TWOMBLY, UNTITLED, 1968 [NEW YORK CITY]. TO BE OFFERED AT THE CONTEMPORARY ART EVENING SALE. ESTIMATE IN EXCESS OF $60 MILLION.

In fact, the painting is making its return to the auction house. Collector and MOCA trustee Audrey Irmas, who acquired the Twombly in 1990 at Sotheby’s, is now offering the work to support her philanthropic foundation. The painting hung in her Los Angeles home and had been a particular favourite of hers. In a Los Angeles Times interview she described the Twombly as “gutsy” and “strong” – adjectives that could apply to the collector herself. Unwavering in her commitments to contemporary art, she also established the Audrey Irmas Foundation for Social Justice, which supports education, health care and other causes championed by her and her late husband, Sydney.

Proceeds from the Sotheby’s sale are to benefit the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, which will receive $30 million through the Foundation to launch the capital campaign for its new Rem Koolhaas-designed building. The Audrey Irmas Pavilion, as it will be known, is the first major cultural commission in Los Angeles for Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture. “I decided that now was the right time to share my good fortune with others,” the collector says. By letting go of a personal treasure, Mrs Irmas is giving the public a work of art. Twombly’s Untitled, 1968 [New York City], estimated in excess of $60 million, will be on view in LA and New York.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

12 November 2015 | New York