Recipient of the Golden Lion in the Venice Biennale of 2001, Cy Twombly (born Edwin Parker and then renamed ‘Cy’ by his father, an athletics teacher and avid fan of Cyclone Young, a celebrated baseball pitcher of the late nineteenth century). Although he can be included in Abstract Expressionism, his legacy remains rather singular and unclassifiable. When he was 14, he was trained in drawing by Pierre Dura and along with his spiritual father, Nicholas Poussin, they reinvented classical antiquity. In his early years, he was influenced by Kurt Schwitters’ Dadaism and Chaim Soutine’s Expressionism, while he also followed the work of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. His close friendship with Robert Rauschenberg defined his artistic career.
On his advice, Cy Twombly attended the famous Black Mountain College, an experimental university in 1951, and in the following years they travelled together in Spain, Morocco and Italy, where he was introduced to many ancient civilisations. Under all these influences, the artist invented a new language where gesturing played an important role. Moving one step forward, he mixed painting and drawing in strange scribbles. By automatically scribbling numbers, letters and random forms, Cy Twombly freed the words from any rational principle and revealed the inexpressible character of language. Impressed by primitivism, the romantic nonchalance of his scribbles and the ‘magic resonance of the names’ he uses, carry a certain degree of eroticism.