The Italians
Cy Twombly
The Italians
Cy Twombly (American, Abstract Expressionism, 1928–2011): The Italians, 1961. Oil, pencil, and crayon on canvas; 6’ 6-5/8" x 8’ 6-1/4" (199.5 x 259.6 cm). Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA. © Cy Twombly Foundation. © This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.

'Wild, scribbled, graffiti–like marks energize the expansive white surface of The Italians, revealing the artist's sensuous joy in manipulating his medium. The explosion of signs, ironically, is not without order or clarity ... ’ (© Museum of Modern Art)

'Cy Twombly was born in Lexington, Virginia, in 1928, the son of a baseball pitcher. From this out-of-the-way spot, events took him to the sources of modernism. In 1951-52 he studied at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina with some of the central modernist refugees from Nazism, and met big figures such as Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell. Twombly moved to Italy in 1959, and ever since he threw his first sculptures into the Tiber as a propitiatory act, he has had an almost magical connection to it, while working at an angle to both the European and American traditions. “The Italians" is a noisy and chaotic evocation of city life. Italians have been drawing penises on walls since as far back as Pompeii, and Twombly’s painting calls up both contemporary scribbles and the nameless ancient artists whose rude commentary survives along with the walls of ancient Rome.’ (Philip Hensher, © The Economist, More Intelligent Life,

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