Movement, Style, School or Type of Art:
"Abstract" is sufficient for conversational purposes. It is also more simple than listing elements from other movements that combine in Cy Twombly's work. For example, the monumental size of his canvases, speed with which he worked, and seemingly-random placement of lines are all similar to Action Painting -- which means we could call it "Gestural-Abstraction-Plus." However, Twombly didn't paint, he drew ... so it might be accurate to call his style "Graphic-Art-Minus-the-Commercial-Intent." It owes much to graffiti, but more resembles calligraphy isn't done on a wall, and is nothing like most Street Art. And nothing is more Minimalist than a line, but 100,000 lines working together aren't minimal.
So Abstract it is.
Date and Place of Birth:
April 25, 1928, Lexington, Virginia
Although he went through life as "Cy," the artist's legal name was Edwin Parker Twombly, Jr. His father, Edwin Senior, also went by Cy -- after baseball great Cy Young -- thanks to pitching parts of seven games (four starts, three reliefs) for the Chicago White Sox in 1921.
Twombly studied at the school of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1948-49, the Art Students' League, New York, 1950-51, and Black Mountain College, 1951-52. In 1957 he settled in Rome.
Best Known For:
Twombly specialized in two things: gigantic canvases and small sculptures.
- The Age of Alexander, 1959-60
- Hyperion (to Keats), 1962
Date and Place of Death:
July 5, 2011, Rome
How To Pronounce "Twombly":
Quotes From (Artist):
- When I work, I work very fast, but preparing to work can take any length of time.
- 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.
- You know, my parents were from New England. It's very funny, but when I grew up you always had to say, "Yes, ma'am" and "Yes, sir." And you were never to talk about yourself. Once I said to my mother: "You would be happy if I just kept well-dressed and [had] good manners," and she said: "What else is there?"
Sources and Further Reading
Joachimides, C. M. , and Rosenthal, N. (eds.) American Art of the 20th Century (exh. cat.).
London: Royal Academy, 1993.
Brigstocke, Hugh (Ed.). "Twombly, Cy"
The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Oxford University Press, 2001.
Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, (6 Nov 2011).