Cy Twombly: Artist Portrait

Cy Twombly

Born 1928. Died 2011.

Cy Twombly Biography

Born in 1928 in Lexington, Virginia, Cy Twombly studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as well as the Art Students League of New York, where he met Robert Rauschenberg. Upon Rauschenberg’s suggestion, Twombly attended the historic Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina, where he studied with Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell among other prominent artists. Cy Twombly has become known as one of the most preeminent American abstract painters.

It was Motherwell who facilitated Twombly’s first solo exhibition, at the Kootz Gallery in New York in 1951. The works in that exhibition were influenced by Kline’s gestureal black and white compositions as well as by Paul Klee’s childlike approach to drawing figures. Subsequent paintings are characterized by seemingly arbitrary scribbles on white or black backgrounds, revealing Twombly’s rejection of traditional ideas of composition, and a particular affinity for the all-over style introduced by Jackson Pollock. After receiving a grant from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Twombly travelled with Rauschenberg to North Africa, Spain, Italy and France; by 1957 he had relocated permanently to Rome. At this stage of his career, Twombly was more heavily influenced by his interest in cryptology, and began moving away from illegible scrawls in favor of traditional letters and numbers.

Over the course of his career, Twombly has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and retrospectives, organized by institutions such as the Centre Pompidou, Paris (1988), Museum of Modern Art, New York (1994), and Tate Modern, London (2008). Twombly died in 2011 in Rome.

Because of his art historical significance, Twombly is one of the most sought-after post-war artists on the market. According to Sotheby’s Mei Moses, the average command annual return for Cy Twombly is 12.3%, with 83.3% of works increasing in value.

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Artist Image: Time Life Pictures