In late 2016, the Centre Georges Pompidou stages the first comprehensive retrospective ever held in Paris about the American artist Cy Twombly. Happening at the Galley 1 of the largest museum dedicated to modern art in Europe, this major event travels through Twombly’s life, starting from the ‘50s and retracing a whole carrier. Chronologically following his artistic evolution, the show testifies how the artist imposes himself as one of the most innovative figure of 20th-century American (and, more broadly, international) art scene.
Often quoting poets such as Mallarmé and Keats or referring to Greek and Roman mythological themes and classical allegories, Twombly is mainly famous for his large-scale calligraphic scribbles painted on solid and flat background. His body of works, though, is not composed just by paintings: in fact, the National Museum of Modern Art further displays marvellous sculptures, precious drawings and rare photographs. By gathering together iconic works, several of which have never been previously shown in France, the exhibit also highlights how Twombly’s creation has been influenced by his personal voyages and 13th-century Persian literature.
While his later canvases become more romantic and symbolic, the final selection collects 140 works that are exquisitely diverse. Focusing on an incredibly rich and extended corpus that is à la fois intellectual and sensual, the installation is assembled around three major cycles: “Nine Discourses on Commodus” (1963), “Fifty Days at Iliam” (1978), and “Coronation of Sesostris” (2000). Ultimately, this exhibition offers itself as an occasion that must not be missed by Parisians and Paris lovers – as well as art passionates, ça va sans dire.
Passed away in 2011, Cy Twombly – whose real name is Edwin Parker, Jr. – was born in 1928 in Lexington, Virginia (US). Working in a post-war America artistically dominated by Abstract Expressionism, he revolutionised modern art evading every specific affiliation to predominant 20th-century art movements. In his works, the artist creates an extremely intricate and sophisticated world imbued with Mediterranean history, geography, mythology, and epic poetry. Inspiration for entire generations of painters, his pieces are host in museums as the Tate Modern, London or the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 2010, the artist was commissioned by the Louvre for a 3,750-square-foot ceiling painting decorating the Salle de Bronzes.
- Cy Twombly, Blooming, 2001-2008. Courtesy of the Centre Pompidou
- Cy Twombly, Apollo, 1975. Courtesy of the Cy Twombly Foundation and Archives Nicola del Roscio
- Cy Twombly, Achilles Mourning the Death of Patroclus, 1962. Courtesy of the Centre Pompidou