We were sad to learn of the passing of Virginia-born artist Cy Twombly, who died yesterday at the age of 83. Twombly was a painter best known for his large scale canvases, often touching on the themes of classical history and literature – inlcuding the pagan gods, sex, and death contained within Greek and Roman myth. The Gaurdian went so far as to describe him as an artist whose classical references can “teach you to read”.
After training in a number of American art schools in his youth, Twombly held his first solo show at the Kootz Gallery in New York. In the late 1950s, as center of the art world was shifting from Europe to New York, Twombly settled in Rome, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. The move was reflective of his tendency to avoid the public eye. He rarely granted interviews.
Twombly’s work defies the categories of contemporary art, perhaps hewing closest to the abstract expressionist and minimalist movements. He favored a graffiti-like style described by some as “scribble painting” and others as calligraphy, and his work frequently divided critics. Over time he has settled firmly in the canon of contemporary American artists - just last year he was invited to paint the ceiling of the Salle des Bronzes at the Louvre in Paris, a rare honor in the art world, and a recent work sold for $15.2 Million.
There is an excellent description of his style and career on the website of the Menil collection, which houses the Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston, TX. His work served as a key inspiration for the HABITUAL men’s line.