About us
Artists Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly Photo

Cy Twombly

American Draftsman, Painter, and Sculptor

Movement: Abstract Expressionism

Born: April 25, 1928 - Lexington, Virginia

Died: July 5, 2011 - Rome, Italy

Cy Twombly Timeline

Quotes

"Graffiti is linear and it's done with a pencil, and it's like writing on walls. But in my paintings it's more lyrical."
Cy Twombly
"When I work, I work very fast, but preparing to work can take any length of time."
Cy Twombly
"Paint is something that I use with my hands and do all those tactile things. I really don't like oil because you can't get back into it, or you make a mess. It's not my favorite thing..pencil is more my medium than wet paint."
Cy Twombly
"I sit for two or three hours and then in 15 minutes I can do a painting, but that's part of it. You have to get ready and decide to jump up and do it; you build yourself up psychologically, and so painting has no time for brush. Brush is boring, you give it and all of a sudden it's dry, you have to go. Before you cut the thought, you know?"
Cy Twombly
"For myself the past is the source (for all art is vitally contemporary)"
Cy Twombly

"My line is childlike but not childish. It is very difficult to fake... to get that quality you need to project yourself into the child's line. It has to be felt."

Synopsis

Although at first glance the graffiti-like scribbles and scratches of Cy Twombly's work might resemble art made by a naughty child of Jackson Pollock, it is nothing of the kind: it is the work of an erudite, sophisticated, and emotional painter. Whereas the work of Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists emerged in 1940s New York, where their existential inner dramas were enacted against the acutely felt backdrop of World War II, Twombly's work was part of the next generation, emerging during the 1950s in Europe - a Europe that was trying to forget and rebuild. Twombly, based for the most part in Rome, thus focused on his immediate surroundings, responding to the history and beauty he found there, combining aspects of both traditional European sources and the new American painting.

Key Ideas

Much of Twombly's work is a direct reflection of, response to, and re-working of the ancient Greco-Roman past that surrounded him in his chosen home in Rome. Inspirations came from Greek and Roman mythology, history, and places, French Neoclassicism, and contemporary graffiti on ancient local walls. Twombly was able to balance the seemingly static history of the past with his own sensual and emotional responses to it.
In both the content and process of his art, Twombly was interested in the layering of time and history, of painting and drawing, and of various meanings and associations. His art situates itself in the context of the history of Western civilization as well as the process-oriented aspects of Abstract Expressionism.
Writing and language also served as major conceptual foundations for Twombly's mostly abstract art. In addition to the written word - in the form of poems, myths, and histories - he also focused on the process of writing, both by sketching unidentifiable doodles and splotches or words directly onto the canvas and by creating line-based compositions, often inspired by handwriting. Through these methods, he was often able to suggest subtle narratives that lay beneath the surfaces of his paintings.

Biography

Cy Twombly Photo

Childhood

Edwin Parker Twombly, Jr. was born in Lexington, Virginia in 1928. Like his father, who briefly pitched for the Chicago White Sox, Twombly was known as Cy, after Cy Young. His father later became a coach and athletic director at Washington and Lee University. Twombly's parents were from the Northeast, so he made frequent trips to Massachusetts and Maine, but the South, with its sense of history and autonomy, ultimately became an integral aspect of his identity. As a young boy, Twombly ordered and worked on art kits he ordered from the Sears Roebuck catalog. His parents encouraged his interest in art, and at twelve years old he started studying with the Spanish modern painter Pierre Daura.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Cy Twombly Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Cy Twombly
Interactive chart with Cy Twombly's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Alberto GiacomettiAlberto Giacometti
Franz KlineFranz Kline
Jean DubuffetJean Dubuffet
Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning

Personal Contacts

Jasper JohnsJasper Johns
Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg

Movements

Classical ArtClassical Art
DadaDada
SurrealismSurrealism
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Action PaintingAction Painting

Influences on Artist
Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly
Years Worked: 1947 - 2011
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Jean-Michel BasquiatJean-Michel Basquiat
Anselm KieferAnselm Kiefer
Francesco ClementeFrancesco Clemente
Julian SchnabelJulian Schnabel
Julie MehretuJulie Mehretu

Personal Contacts

Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg
Roland BarthesRoland Barthes

Movements

Graffiti ArtGraffiti Art
Neo-ExpressionismNeo-Expressionism

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
[Accessed ]