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  • Cy Twombly

Untitled

1968
Oil based wall paint, wax crayon on canvas
68.11 inch x 85.04 inch x 1.18 inch
Leihgabe der Österreichischen Ludwig-Stiftung/On loan from the Austrian Ludwig Foundation, seit/since 1991
Inventory number: ÖL-Stg 278/0

There is pretty well no other twentieth-century artist whose work so fundamentally and utterly resists definition in terms of some artistic style or movement as does that of Cy Twombly. One reason for this is surely that the American Twombly moved to Rome in 1957, at the age of 29, and then took a very strong interest in European intellectual history. Before this, Twombly lived in New York, where he was greatly influenced by meeting Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and the composer John Cage, whose Dadaistic irony was directed at the existentialist gestures of abstract expressionism.
If the 1968 work "Untitled" were not nearly four square meters in size, it might be taken for a drawing. The loops that feature on the whole canvas are not drawn from the wrist on a small sheet of paper, but by the rotating arm of the artist’s body walking forwards. Twombly “draws” with wax crayons on a still wet background, so that the strokes dig into the surface. The crayon lines are directly applied to the texture of the canvas, so that they form a relief and a haptic surface. If you look at this web of lines from a distance, then it forms a cloudy shape that seems to be floating in an indefinite and purely optical space of color.