Cy Twombly (Lexington, USA, 1928 - Rome, 2011), a contemporary of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, is heir to the first generation of Abstract Expressionism. He reaches maturity in the Sixties with a style that attaches great importance to the psychic gesture expressed through line and which can be seen in the scribbles, letters, numbers, words, diagrams and signs that appear throughout his career. For this reason Harald Szeemann, curator of this exhibition has said of the artist: "With the line, he has been able to say what almost every painter would like to say."
Twombly moves to Rome in 1957, an ideal city for an artist who uses classical myths and Renaissance paintings as material for his paintings. His work is full of explicit cultural references, sometimes through titles and other times revealed directly on the surface of the canvas. With his arrival in the Italian capital the symbols become more explicit and the background becomes more direct and illuminated, giving his canvases a further expressiveness. In 1961, the red on meat and blood are the protagonists, the colour is applied directly from their tubes.
In Twombly’s art, colour is not at the service of what is represented, it is matter and substance for the creation. His emphasis on white, both in his paintings as in his sculptures supposes the suppression and lack of colour. "Innocence is white -says the artist- (...) It is not possible to examine the exact meaning and actual content of innocence. However, she is the landscape of my actions and has to mean something more than a simple choice." His process often involves painting with a brush on a monochrome surface with white, cream or grey and then going back to graphite, charcoal or pastel, working on the entire field of painting, which was at times still wet.
In this exhibition we find Untitled paintings made between 1954, 1955 and 1956 which underscore the importance of the use of graphite, charcoal and pastel. In the earliest painting in this exhibition, a small, dark, untitled canvas from 1952, his work approaches that of Kline or De Kooning. In this work, Twombly used brush but soon begins to replace it for other techniques. In Panorama from 1955, which could be considered the masterpiece of his early years, the artist creates a gentle dripping alluding to Pollock.
From 1960, Twombly devotes his style through works such as Leda and the Swan (1962) or the “blackboard paintings” of the late sixties and early seventies, which depart from mythological themes and recover, to some extent, his first lines and gestures. This exhibition will show, for the first time, paintings that the artist kept in his homes in Rome and Bassano in Teverina. They are joined by a group of sculptures made between 1955 and 1986 and works on paper from 1953 to 1986.
Kunsthaus, Zürich (February 18 - March 29, 1987); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (September 25 - November 15, 1987); Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf (December 16, 1987 - January 31, 1988); Centre Pompidou, Paris (February 17 - April 17, 1988)