- Cy Twombly
- signed and dated 1970 on the reverse
- oil and wax crayon on paper
- 27 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. 70 x 100 cm.
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1974
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It was in Rome – an environment of particular significance to Twombly, and a landscape that provided him with perpetual inspiration – that the artist first conceived of the sparse iconography of the celebrated Blackboard works. Begun in 1966, this series concurrently marked a moment of critical rupture from his earlier oeuvre, and established itself as the aesthetic focal point from which his future artistic endeavors – indeed, some of the most ambitious and creative of his entire career – would emanate. Works such as Untitled signify an abrupt abandonment of the richly colorful and expressive compositions of the first half of the 1960s known as the Baroque Paintings, and give rise to a larger body of works that are described by their pure austerity and visual sublimity. Executed in 1970, Untitled recalls the pictorial language of Twombly’s first experiments with the effusive and turbulent scribbles in 1966, in which the lasso-loops and circular lines playfully overwhelm the surface to create a lyrical yet dramatic impression on the viewer. Every inch of this superb work is a consummate display of Twombly’s celebration of a more intuitive and gestural approach to art-making, in which the visceral movement of the artist’s hand is palpable in every line.
Though deeply and indelibly archetypal of its creator’s unique aesthetic vision, Untitled dually recalls a plethora of visual referents: fascinated by capturing both movement and time, Twombly’s practice easily aligns with that of Marcel Duchamp, while the liberal energy of Jackson Pollock’s action painting and the typological drills of the ubiquitous Palmer Handwriting Method are also strongly represented and referenced by the present composition. As viewers we are seduced, by what is perceived as a stark reduction of the painted surface to its most elemental form, into the hidden complexity and depth of the image. Despite our residual yearning to decipher the written marks that describe Untitled, Twombly's visual language has neither syntax nor logic. With the unsophisticated rawness of illegible graffiti Twombly invents a transcendent new visual language to interrogate both the most elementary and the most sophisticated concerns posed by the genesis of creativity. Teeming with pure artistic brilliance, Untitled stands as tangible testimony to Cy Twombly’s staggering innovation and peerless abstract aesthetic.