Untitled, Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly
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Cy Twombly

Untitled, 1971

650 x 510 mm
Physical Description
Gouache, coloured chalk and pencil on Bristol paper, the upper edge folded forwards by approx. 105 mm
Inventory Number
SG 3340
Object Number
SG 3340 Z
Not on display


About the Work

The American artist Cy Twombly was both a draughtsman and a painter. He preferred to work with pencil, crayons and coloured chalks, which permitted him to create linear designs. He used these materials for autonomous works on paper and on primed canvas, so that many of his large-format paintings recall the qualities of drawings.

From the 1950s onwards, Twombly's drawings were characterised by the fine graphisms typical of his works: provocative scribbles in the form of rhythmically repeated line progressions, whirls, dense knots and bundles of lines, scattered numbers and, finally, words distributed randomly across the surface like clumsy handwriting. He began in the 1970s to add collaged elements and fragments of quotations lifted out of their contexts. He did not draw statically positioned signs but rather momentary seismographic traces of a physical design process and a passage of time.

Twombly moved to Rome in 1957 and made it his home. His work was defined by the Mediterranean world in which he dwelt, its history, places and mythological figures, the names of its poets and its languages, but also the sea. This drawing from 1971, whose design follows Twombly's creative reflection more visibly than in earlier works, describes the illusion of proximity and distance and deals with space and time. He has made sparing use of graphic media, initially drawing horizontal lines with two blue chalks and a soft pencil across the entire width of the vertical-format sheet. While they do little more than show through the light beige-coloured gouache with which the sheet was overpainted, the lines added afterwards are all the more present as a result of their materiality. These lines subdivide the drawing at irregular intervals, beginning in an understated way near the bottom edge of the drawing and continuing more concentratedly in the upper half. The restless-looking traces of lines in the spaces in between and especially the diagonal connections draw the viewer's gaze not only upwards, but also down into the depths of the pictorial space - which the artist has marked by means of a collage-like process, with a horizon line in his graphic process, as it were. Near the top, where the forward fold in the cardboard begins and the gap thus created casts a real shadow, he completed the work by adding the numerical sequence 13-14-71, which suggests a specific date. Viewed as such, his drawing can be experienced as a spatially and temporally coherent continuum.

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