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The curtain rises, we look, we wait, we receive, we understand; and once the scene is finished and the painting removed, we remember: we are no longer what we were: as in ancient drama, we have been initiated. What I should like to do is consider Twombly in relation to what constitutes an Event. (Roland Barthes, The Wisdom of Art, Cy Twombly: Paintings and Drawings, 1954-1977, Whitney Museum of American Art, April 1979, p. 9) \nInvoking the visceral urgency, soaring scale, and intoxicating drama of an Hellenic epic, Cy Twomblys Untitled from 1964 unfolds before the viewer to present a compelling portrait of a virtuosic creative mind at the pinnacle of its expressive powers. Achieving an exquisite balance between a furious gestural dynamism, a deeply sensual mastery of material, and an enduring engagement with classical influences, Untitled demonstrates the profound force of Twomblys abstract lexicon at its most emphatic and inspired. Executed in 1964, the present work marks a crucial interstitial moment within the artists career: while invoking the mythic corporeality of his early 1960s canvases, the searing graphite lines and sensuous forms of Untitled achieve new levels of lyrical precision and restrained grace, articulating an Apollonian intellectualism unprecedented in his earlier work. Held in the same distinguished European collection for almost four decades, Untitled triumphantly joins in perfect concert the ethereal graphite forms, furious graffito lines, and visceral bursts of vibrant pigment to perform the equivalent of visual poetry before our eyes.\nIn its grandiose architectural schema and gestural drama, Untitled powerfully attests to Twomblys enduring and intense engagement with the mythic landscape of classical antiquity. As exemplified in the present work, Twomblys Baroque-inspired paintings, created in the years following his permanent move to Rome in 1957, reveal the enormous influence that the ancient citys crumbling citadels, High Renaissance tableaux, and enlightened scenes of Neoclassicism enacted upon his abstract vernacular. Suzanne Delahanty notes the inspiration Twombly found in the majestic panoramas, classical landscapes and love cycles from the High Renaissance and the Baroque, that satisfied both Twomblys temperament and his new need for pictorial scaleRaphaels The School of Athens and also his frescoes of Galateas triumph, in the Villa Farnesina, a five-minute walk from Twomblys residence, and perhaps Galateas descendants by Carracci and Poussin, were at the forefront of his visual memory. (Suzanne Delehanty, The Alchemy of Mind and Hand, 1975 inNicola Del Roscio, ed., Writings on Cy Twombly, Munich, 2002, p. 64) Inspired by the antiquarian splendor which surrounded him, Twomblys paintings grew increasingly connotative of place as he graphically articulated his emotional and creative response to his new environs; indeed, the soaring windows of the present work, surrounding the central forms to fill the upper register of the canvas, are particularly evocative of Twomblys ornate, high-ceilinged studio in the centro storico of Rome. From Twomblys new home, the entire field of Mediterranean culturefrom the cosmic dramas of the Greek gods to the serene beauty of Hellenistic sculptureacquired a new and magnificent significance for his life and work. Typifying Twomblys extraordinary graphic lexicon, in which fact and fiction, history and myth, are blurred and fused in a semantic unity, a scrawled 88 above the artists furious signature in the present work suggests the enticing promise of further inference; perhaps an enigmatic gesture towards Ancient Roman General Sullas infamous march upon and subsequent capture of Rome in 88 BC, a pivotal event within the narrative of internal conflict that would eventually lead to the destruction of the Roman Republic and establishment of Julius Caesar as dictator, Twomblys ultimate meaning is, as ever, elusive. As Nicholas Cullinan has described: To encounter the past is to put into question the present. This sense of awe and perplexity at overlaid tenses and times and encountering places only previously known in the imaginationoffered for Twombly a palimpsest of past, present and future; layered, intertwined and interpenetrating each other like archaeological strata. (Nicholas Cullinan in Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons, Tate Modern, London 2008, p. 74) Drawing upon the all-encompassing scale and light-filled splendor of such spaces as the Colosseum and the Roman Theatre, Untitled is transformed into a monumental arena, within which Twombly gives expression to the philosophical space that his paintings occupy: between corporeality and intangibility, figuration and abstraction, signifier and signified.\nExuding a gestural ferocity and irrepressible corporeality barely restrained by Twomblys exacting abstraction, Untitled marks a pivotal moment between the impassioned, Dionysian abandon that typifies the artists early, myth-centric paintings and the increasing restraint and graphic pre-eminence that came to define his canvases of the late 1960s. Describing Twomblys paintings of this period, Roland Barthes reflects: Twomblys art consists in making us see things: not those which he represents but those which he manipulates: a few pencil strokes, this squared paper, this touch of pink, this brown smudge. This is an art with a secret. (Roland Barthes, The Wisdom of Art, in: Exh. Cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Cy Twombly: Paintings and Drawings 1954-1977, 1979, pp. 9-10) Colliding at the heart of the canvas, a fiercely combative battle between furiously scribbled graphite forms and combustive clumps of pigment unfolds with fierce intensity; surrounding this explosive flurry of mark-making like an Apollonian backdrop upon the stage, four scrawled windows fill the blank upper register of the canvas, overlooking and containing the histrionic fray below with simplified solemnity. In contrast with the sweeping expanse of white canvas, this sumptuous tempest of medium and mark is all the more vitalized, as Twomblys aesthetic of excess is held in tension with that of restraint. Scholar Pierre Restrany describes Twomblys abstraction as being, As full of ambiguity as life itself...its murmuring penetrating to the very depths of things. The marks are elusive since they instinctively make for the essential. This figuration, which breaks through white emptiness with all kinds of potential meanings, is rich in intention and content." (Pierre Restany, The Revolution of the Sign, 1961, in Writings on Cy Twombly, ed. by Nicola Del Roscio, Munich 2002, p. 47) The rich expanse of canvas in the present work conjures allusions to the symbolic whiteness of Stéphane Mallarmé, French symbolist poet and pivotal conceptual influence for Twombly, who championed the importance of the white page as a vital spatial and temporal void upon which creative energies can find expression; filling the blank upper register of the canvas, Twomblys scrawled windows are equally evocative of Mallarmés conception of windows as, like the page, blank spaces, through which the poet or artistcontemplates his own creative interior. Window or page, canvas or arena, in Untitled, Twombly exercises the profoundly expressive might of his abstraction to manifest creativity as viscerally tangible experience. Indeed the extraordinary experience of Untitled is perhaps best described by Roland Barthes, who advises that the viewer observe the painting as a kind of traditional stage: the curtain rises, we look, we wait, we receive, we understand; and once the scene is finished and the painting removed, we remember: we are no longer what we were: as in ancient drama, we have been initiated. What I should like to do is consider Twombly in relation to what constitutes an Event. (Roland Barthes, The Wisdom of Art, Cy Twombly: Paintings and Drawings, 1954-1977, Whitney Museum of American Art, April 1979, p. 9)\nSigned and dated 1964
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NY, US
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notes

Please refer to Sothebys.com for updated cataloguing for this lot.

medium

Oil, pencil, and wax crayon on canvas

creator

Twombly, Cy

dimensions

66 1/2 by 79 in. 168.9 by 200.7 cm.

exhibition

Munich, Galerie Friedrich + Dahlem, Cy Twombly, Notes from a Tower/The Artist in the Northern Climate, 1964, no. 6, illustrated Vienna, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Malefiguren. Clemente, Immendorff, Kirkeby, Morley, Nitsch, Twombly, July - September 1994, p. 114 Vaduz, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Dialog: Dasein, February - May 2002 Venice, Musei Civici Veneziani, 50. Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte, La Biennale di Venezia. Pittura/Painting from Rauschenberg to Murakami 1964-2003, June - September 2003, p. 429, illustrated in color Vaduz, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Durchleuchtet. Dialog mit der Sammlung, March - May 2004, p. 23, no. 9 (text) Vaduz, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Dialog: Europa - Amerika, June - September 2004 Burgdorf, Museum Franz Gertsch, "...ein ring von unschätzbarem wert." ausgewählte preisträger des kaiserrings goslar, July - October 2005 Vaduz, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Aus der Sammlung: Von der (Un)Schärfe der Welt, September 2010 - January 2011 Lugano, Museo Cantonale d'Arte e Museo d'Arte; and Losanna, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Un finestra sul mondo. Da Dürer a Mondrian e oltre (Window to the World. From Dürer to Mondrian and Beyond), September 2012 - May 2013, p. 235, no. 182, illustrated in color Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Fenetres de la Renaissance à nos jours. Dürer, Monet, Magritte..., January - May 2013, no. 231, illustrated  Vaduz, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Aus der Sammlung: Under the Magnifying Glass, August 2014 - January 2015 Vaduz, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Aus der Sammlung: Malerei - Schrift, Zeichen, Fläche, February - October 2017

literature

Heiner Bastian, ed., Cy Twombly: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Volume II 1961-1965, Munich, 1993, pp. 266-267, no. 176, illustrated in color Richard Leeman, Cy Twombly: A Monograph, London, 2005, p. 118, illustrated in color (detail) and p. 121, no. 112, illustrated in color

provenance

Galerie Friedrich + Dahlem, Munich Galerie Renée Ziegler, Zurich Galleria Gian Enzo Sperone, Turin Private Collection Neuendorf Gallery, Cologne Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1970

signedDate

Signed and dated 1964

artist_range_end

2011

artist_range_start

1928

consignmentDesignation

Property of a Private European Collector

creator_nationality_dates

1928-2011


*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.


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