Lot 152
  • 152

Cy Twombly

400,000 - 600,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Cy Twombly
  • 14 Papers
  • signed, titled and dated April 24 83
  • gouache, watercolor, graphite, and felt-tip pen on paper
  • 22 3/4 by 22 1/2 in. 57.8 by 57.2 cm.


James Cohan Gallery, New York
Christie's, New York, May 12, 2004, lot 192
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale

Catalogue Note

Prior to his fortuitous move to Rome in 1957, Cy Twombly's style evolved around the use of a gestural, spontaneous line, incised into the oil surface, using various methods and tools. Although Twombly was long fascinated by weathered and ruined monuments, or, in is own words, for the "eroded and ancient surfaces of time," (artist's 1956 statement from a grant application quoted in Exh. Cat., Cy Twombly: a Retrospective, New York, Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 61), it would be his immersion in the study of Roman antiquity and the fascination of the objects in his new environment that would afford him with a new appreciation for ornate patterns and dead language. In this sense, with the new influence and source of inspiration, Twombly's works became as much concerned with the loss of meaning as with creating it, and their very hermeticism became their eloquence.

In 14 Papers, executed in 1983, Twombly has split his composition horizontally, with a sense of divine proportion. The expanse of gouache and watercolor that takes up the majority of the picture plane is an all but impossible color. Twombly, with his typical taste for uncanny optics, superimposes greens and reds, somehow creating not a muddy color, but a magical one: at once warm and cool. The bottom edge, left white – though scrawled in red with his characteristically illegible script – seems almost to vie with the large expanse of saturated paint above it for the viewer's attention. The two parts, in a sort of symbiotic competition, ultimately create a composition of unprecedented concordance. Robert Motherwell, recognized that Twombly's painting process was "orgiastic. ...Yet the art in his painting is rational, often surprisingly simply symmetrical, and invariably harmonious." (Exh. Cat., New York, Sperone Westwater, Cy Twombly: Paintings and Sculptures 1951-1953, 1989, n.p.).