Date of Bith: April 25, 1928

Location: Lexington, Virginia

About Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly is a painter, sculptor and photographer. He is an important representative of the abstract expressionism.

Edwin “Cy “Parker Twombly Jr took painting lessons at the age of fourteen from the Spanish painter Pierre Daura, a former student of Pablo Picasso who at the outbreak of World War II was exiled to the United States.

Twombly graduated in 1948 at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) and showed a special interest in Dadaism and Surrealism.

He also spent one year at Washington and Lee University in Lexington. From 1950 to 1951 he attended classes at the Art Students League of New York, where he came into contact with Robert Rauschenberg, who encouraged him to study at Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina.

From 1951 to 1952 Twombly lived here and received training amongst Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell and Ben Shahn.

Twombly’s first solo exhibition was organized in 1951 by the Kootz Gallery in New York. In 1952, Twombly received a prize from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, it made him able to travel in company with Rauschenberg, to Morocco, Spain and France and Italy.

In 1953 he returned back to the United States to serve the army as a cryptologist. This activity left a clear mark on his artistic career. During the fifties and sixties his paintings were heavily influenced by calligraphy and combined elements of gestural abstraction, drawing and writing.

From 1955 to 1959 he worked and studied in New York. He was a prominent presence within the well known artist group, which included Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. In 1959, Twombly went back to Italy and settled in Rome. During this period he began to create his first abstract sculptures.
Twombly was invited to show his work at the Venice Biennale in 1965. The Milwaukee Art Center organized the first retrospective of his work in 1968. Other major exhibitions were held in the Kunsthaus in Zurich in 1987, the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, in 1988, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, 1994.

The Menil Collection in Houston designed The Cy Twombly Gallery in co-operation with Renzo Piano and it opened their doors in 1995 and houses more than thirty of Twombly’s paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, dating from 1953 to 1994. A large collection of Twombly’s work is also kept by Museum Brandhorst and the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, Germany.

In the year 2000 Kunstmuseum Basel and The Menil Collection presented Cy Twombly: The Sculpture. In 2005 the MOMA in NY organized Cy Twombly : Fifty years of works on paper.

The European retrospective “Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons” opened in the Tate Modern in London in June 2008, with later versions in the Bilbao Guggenheim, Spain and the Museum of Modern Art in Rome in 2009. “Cy Twombly: The Natural World, Selected Works 2000-2007” can be seen in The Art Institute of Chicago, along with one other major survey “Sensations of the Moment” in the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna.
A progenitor of graffiti-style writing as fine art, Twombly earned his art world stripes in the late 1960s with challenging paintings depicting loose text-based scrawling. He became a pioneer of the American abstract expressionism has featured over 200 shows and exhibitions across the globe. Despite his advanced age, the highly respected American artist is still working daily in his studios in Gaeta, Rome and Lexington, Virginia.