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"Untitled," 1973 by Cy Twombly

Untitled, 1973; Lithograph and serigraph on mould made rag paper; Numbered 102/300, initialed C.T., and dated 73 in pencil lower edge verso; Stamped © Copyright 1973 By Cy Twombly Printed At Styria Studio in black ink, upper right verso; Published by Experiments in Art and Technology, Inc.; Catalog Raisonne: Bastian 38; Size - Sheet 12 x 9"; Unframed.


"Untitled," 1973 by Cy Twombly


"Each line is now the actual experience with its own innate history. It does not illustrate - it is the sensation of its own realization." - Cy Twombly


Cy Twombly (1928-2011) was an American painter, sculptor, photographer, and print maker. He is most known for his large scale paintings that depict calligraphic, scribbled, and graffiti-like compositions that are set on a grey, tan, or off-white field. His works are in every major museum in the world with numerous works in the Tate Modern, Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim, and housed and shown in a separate building as part of the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. Twombly was also commissioned to paint the ceiling in a room in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France. His most expensive painting at auction was "Untitled (New York City)," 1968 which sold for $70.5 million at Sotheby's in 2015.


Twombly's artistic style began to emerge in the mid 1950's. He was influenced by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, with whom he shared a studio. Twombly was to develop a simplified form of abstraction that was influenced by tribal art, that immediately lead to the invocation of primitivism. He developed a technique of gestural drawing, characterized by thin white lines on a dark ground. This contrast and painting technique lead to the appearance that the lines had been scratched onto the surface of the canvas. Once he moved to Gaeta in Southern Italy, he began to integrate classical source material into his compositions. Soon, erotic and corporeal symbols were utilized, as well as a greater move towards lyricism. In the mid 1970's there was a shift, and he began to incorporate color into his works; particularly brown, green, and light blue. There was also an increase in inscriptions and collage elements; as well as inspiration being drawn from historical events, literature, and mythology. The rough utilization of the source material, combined in unique and primitive (ritual and fetish elements) ways, evoked the memory of those events without an overt need for elaborate illustration.


"Untitled," 1973 (created to raise funds for the acquisition of works of art by artists working in New York during the 1960's that were to be donated to the Moderna Museet, Stockholm) is an exceptional work by Cy Twombly. Strong and aggressively applied black lines, primarily diagonal, are drawn onto a tan and blue-grey field. There are floating forms that are created by space being left by adjacent lines not being drawing continuously, as well as line gaps that appear to exist because a line was not drawn with an equal amount of pressure. A subtle background of lighter horizontal lines and shaded fields suggest a draftsman level of design and an underpinning structure. The application of the lines seems planned but executed quickly and with little precision; however the exact reason and meaning of the composition is deliberately obscured for the viewer. This is a wonderful example of Twombly at his best and a great addition to any twentieth century art collection!


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