Search for over 80 million sold items in our price database

Cy Twombly (b. 1928)
Sold

About the item

Cy Twombly (b. 1928)\nCapitoli\nsigned 'Cy Twombly' (lower centre) and titled 'Capitoli' (upper centre)\noil, pencil and wax crayon on canvas\n51¼ x 59¼in. (130.2 x 150.5cm.)\nPainted in 1962
GB
GB
GB

notes

During 1960, Twombly's paintings had become denser and denser; an increasing number of them remained Untitled. But in 1962, perhaps as a reflection of the influence of his journey to Egypt at the beginning of the year, a new sparseness and a fresh re-engagement with myth and history emerged in his paintings. Capitoli, executed in Rome in the studio on the Piazza del Biscione that he had acquired the previous year, shows both the eloquent spareness and the interest in his ancient surroundings that was to result in so many of his masterpieces being painted that year, for instance Leda and the Swan, Birth of Venus and Hyperion (to Keats), which is in the Menil Collection. During this period, Twombly was also exploring various themes in sequences of works that shared an umbrella title, as is the case with Capitoli, which shares this name with two other pictures from the same period.

By allowing the white enough space to breathe, Twombly manages to emphasise the various marks of pencil, crayon and oil paint that articulate the canvas. While some of his earlier works had featured an increasingly prominent use of colour, here he has judiciously pared this back, making the few flashes of oil all the more dramatic. These he appears to have applied directly with his hands, as is emphasised by the smeared and dragged areas at the bottom right. This fills the work with a sense of immediacy, while the gesturality itself adds a highly personal dimension. We are witnesses to the artist's touch and intervention.

Alongside these areas of colour are the hallmark scrawls and scribbles so distinctive of Twombly's works. Recalling the ancient graffiti of Pompeii or even of Rome, they introduce a strange sense of timelessness. They are ancient and universal, reflecting Twombly's own perception of the continuing, living history of Europe and in particular of Rome, formerly the hub of Western civilisation. This city, with its still-standing, sometimes still-inhabited monuments, lives alongside its past in a way that enchanted and fascinated the artist, who had grown up in the relatively 'new' United States. Where there, history was popularly conceived of as a matter of a few centuries, Rome is the result of the accretion of thousands of years of culture, of building, of living, of evolution. It was not only the epic themes of the legends of the past that led to Twombly's fascination with Rome, but also the simple fact and the little evidences of the continuation of century upon century of day-to-day living. And nowhere is the humblest proof of that life shown than in the ancient graffiti, which in itself adds such a texture to the past.

But while these marks invoke timelessness in Twombly's canvases, they also evoke the ephemeral, as is emphasised by the use of pencil and the mirage-like effect of these scrawlings against the white background. Some of the pencil marks show words, for instance the title in the top right and the word 'history' placed at the top in the centre. This hints at the viewer being able to find a key to decoding the other marks, but they remain ciphers. Indeed, the presence of genuinely written-out words on the canvas is an act of misdirection that leads the viewer to assume that all might be legible. Yet in fact many of the marks only teeter elusively on the edge of comprehension, as though they are messages that cannot quite be transferred, hinting at the impossibility of true human communication, and therefore at an intense awareness of the burden of subjectivity. It is this highly subjective element of the pencil marks on Capitoli, sharpened by the concurrent use of hand-applied oils, that introduces the most ephemeral aspect-- the artist's own fleeting touch. For these marks are the almost archaeological evidence of Twombly's own movements: "Each line now is the actual experience with its own innate history. It does not illustrate-- it is the sensation of its own realization. The imagery is one of the private or separate indulgencies rather than an abstract totality of visual perception. This is very difficult to describe, but it is an involvement in essence (no matter how private) into a synthesis of feeling, intellect etc. occurring without separation in the impulse of action" (Twombly, quoted in K. Varnedoe (ed.), Cy Twombly: A Retrospective, exh. cat., New York 1994, p. 27).

title

Cy Twombly (b. 1928)

medium

Oil, pencil and wax crayon on canvas

notice

Please note the correct measurements should read: 51¼ x 59¼in. (130.2 x 150.5cm.)

prelot

THE TETTAMANTI COLLECTION

signed

Signed 'Cy Twombly' (lower centre) and titled 'Capitoli' (upper centre)

department

POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART

dimensions

51¼ x 59¼in. (130.2 x 150.5cm.)

literature

Predilezioni, Tre decenni di avanguardia dalla raccolta di Riccardo Tettamanti, Milan 1988 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).

H. Bastian, Cy Twombly, Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, 1961-1965, vol. II, Berlin 1993, no. 87 (illustrated, p. 161).

provenance

Galleria Toselli, Milan.

Galleria Notizie, Turin.

Galleria Sperone, Turin.

Acquired from the above by the present owner in October 1971.


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

You may also like

Artist: B

Artist: B

Price
2,650 USD

Artist: B

Artist: B

Price
1,850 USD

Sans Titre

Sans Titre

Price
7,000 USD

Cratere

Cratere

Price
13,000 USD

Jardin de Bord de Mer

Jardin de Bord de Mer

Price
2,500 USD

Waiting

Waiting

Price
8,000 USD

Standing by the Sea

Standing by the Sea

Price
7,500 USD

Figures in Interior

Figures in Interior

Price
4,500 USD


Advert
Advert

Sold items

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) Sixty Last Suppers
Sold

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) Sixty Last Suppers

Realized Price
60,875,000 USD

Cy Twombly (1928-2011) Untitled
Sold

Cy Twombly (1928-2011) Untitled

Realized Price
46,437,500 USD

Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Sold

Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

Realized Price
36,005,000 USD

A B, Still
Sold

A B, Still

Realized Price
33,987,500 USD

Jeff Koons (B. 1955)
Sold

Jeff Koons (B. 1955)

Realized Price
33,765,000 USD

Jeff Koons (b. 1955)
Sold

Jeff Koons (b. 1955)

Realized Price
33,682,500 USD

Lucian Freud (b. 1922)
Sold

Lucian Freud (b. 1922)

Realized Price
33,641,000 USD

Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)
Sold

Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)

Realized Price
32,154,332 USD

Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)
Sold

Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)

Realized Price
31,525,000 USD

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)
Sold

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

Realized Price
30,405,000 USD

Cy Twombly (1928-2011)
Sold

Cy Twombly (1928-2011)

Realized Price
29,641,845 USD