Twombly, Twombly!!!


 

I recently visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. This is one of the exhibitions that caught my eye.

Cy Twombly was an American artist, who belonged to the same generation as Robert Rauschenburg. He was a painter, sculptor, and photographer. He was born in 1928, died in 2011. In 1954, Twombly served as a cryptographer for the U.S. Army. In 1957, Twombly moved to Rome, where he spent the rest of his life. His work was mostly Abstract Expressionism.

 

Second Voyage to ItalyCy Twombly, Second Voyage to Italy

 

Twombly lived in Rome after World War II. He ended up being among a generation artists, in 1950’s Europe, that were trying to forget about the war. For his inspiration, Twombly used his surroundings in Rome, combined with the new style of American painters. He used these sources, and combined it with his own emotional reactions to them.

His paintings mostly had a solid color background that was usually gray, tan, or off-white. On top of the solid color background, Twombly scribbled. A few of these, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, resembled a chalkboard. And, what looked like chalk, was in the form of scribbling. Many of his paintings use this scribbling style, which sometimes resembles cursive handwriting (a calligraphy style). Other times, Twombly’s work resembles grafitti. One of the large paintings, at the Museum of Modern Art, looked like random chalk marks. But, some looked more like cursive handwriting. Though, there were no actual letters represented, just vague shapes that resembled the structure of letters. Later in his career, he would focus more on romantic symbolism.

Untitled Cursive-style piece

Cy Twombly, Untitled

Cursive-style piece

When I stood next to a large Twombly art piece “Untitled, 1971,” a museum employee told me that it was worth $1 Billion dollars. That intrigued me. I looked into why Twombly’s work would be worth so much money. Twombly was a big influence to generations of younger artists. He is considered a very important artist. He is said to have influenced Jean-Michel Basquiat, Anselm Kiefer, Francesco Clemente, and Julian Schnabel. Another reason that Twombly’s work is so expensive now, is scarcity. Twombly has a small body of work, only creating about 650 paintings. When compared to artists, such as Andy Warhol who created over 10,000 works of art, Twombly has a relatively small amount of completed works. If every major art museum in the world sought to acquire an important Twombly piece, there wouldn’t be any his artwork left.

 

Untitled 1971.jpg

 

Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1971

Me Next to a $1 Billion dollar art pieceMe next to a $1 Billion dollar art piece

I liked the artworks by Twombly that were more of calligraphic style, that looked almost like cursive handwriting. My favorite piece of Twombly’s, n the Museum of Modern Art, was a piece titled “Note I” from the series “III Notes from Salalah” 2005-2007. It had that chalkboard aesthetic, the forms that resembled cursive handwriting, and drips. The calligraphic-style faux lettering looked watered down. And, the letters were dripping.

Note I from the series III Notes from Salalah 2005-2007Cy Twombly, “Note I” from the series “III Notes from Salalah” 2005-2007

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