“While most American artists of his generation sought their inspiration in contemporary popular culture, Twombly turned to the traditional sources of Western art: Greek and Roman antiquity and the Renaissance.” Catalogue for the exhibition ‘American Art of the 20th Century’.
Edwin Parker Twombly Jr was born in Virginia in the USA. He studied at Washington and Lee University, Boston Museum School, The Arts League in New York and Black Mountain College in North Carolina.
More commonly known as Cy, he is best known for his work as an abstract painter and draughtsman. He moved to Italy in 1957 and took up residence in Rome in 1959 where he has remained ever since. Twombly’s work is recognised by his scrawls and scribbles on black or white backgrounds. Rejecting traditional notions of composition, Twombly’s paintings are close to Jackson Pollock’s ‘all-over’ style in their chaotic abstractions. He has had numerous one-man exhibitions since 1951 and in 1994 the Museum of Modern Art exhibited a retrospective of his work.
In light of his comparisons with Pollock, Twombly never achieved the
intensity or vitality with his contemporary. Indeed, whereas Pollock is known for the dynamism and vitality of his work, Twombly’s oeuvre has been dismissed as second rate and described by one detractor, Bernard Levin, simply as ‘silly scribblings’. Yet Twombly has a major international reputation, with his paintings changing hands for huge sums.