July 2011 saw the devastating death of Cy Twombly, an artist who had received great critical acclaim throughout his lengthy career. Born in Virginia, USA in 1928, he became part of the thriving New York art scene when he moved there in 1950. Shortly after, he joined his friend and peer, the renowned artist Robert Rauschenberg, at the infamous Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Here, through the liberal teachings and guidance that the college offered, Twombly was encouraged to explore his artistic practice. He eventually relocated to Rome and established a studio there in the mid 1950s, but continued to travel back and forth to the States.
His first solo exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York City in 1960 was his first step towards establishing his artistic career. He continued to exhibit regularly around the world until his death, and became a corner stone of the Gagosian stable when the gallery was established in the 1980s. Important recent surveys include a retrospective at Tate Modern, London in June 2008, with subsequent versions at the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Museum of Modern Art in Rome in 2009.
"This new commemorative exhibition simultaneously explores Twombly’s last eight paintings, completed before his death in July last year"
Split into two halves, this new commemorative exhibition simultaneously explores Twombly’s last eight paintings, completed before his death in July last year, and, through a series of 66 photographs taken between 1954 and 2011, his lesser-known practice as a photographer. Known world-wide for his work as a predominantly abstract painter, this series of his final paintings are, despite his impending death, energetic and colourful, featuring his characteristic, free-flowing hand-writing style gestures. In contrast, the series of photographs present an exclusive and intimate insight into the life and vision of the artist. Marking the first time that this aspect of Twombly’s oeuvre has been presented in such depth in the U.K., the works feature every day objects including studio impressions, landscapes and flowers.
This exhibition at Gagosian Britannia Street running until September 29, is the London leg of the touring show, which has previously visited Gagosian outposts in Los Angeles and Hong Kong, and will continue to their New York space later this year.
Text by Siobhan Andrews