Cy Twombly (1928-2011)
Oil and crayon on canvas
Overall: 79 × 103 3/8 in. (200.7 × 262.6 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph B. Schulhof
Rights and Reproductions Information
© Cy Twombly Foundation
In 1966, Cy Twombly began a series of paintings, drawings, and collages that resembled chalkboards. To create the paintings in the series, including Untitled, he drew on wet gray paint with crayon, incising white, graffiti-like marks into the surface. The work’s gestural appearance relates to Abstract Expressionism, which dominated the art world when Twombly began developing his art in the 1950s. At the same time, the canvas’s austere surface evokes the Minimalist and Conceptual work being produced contemporaneously by fellow American artists. Here, Twombly’s cascade of lines, shapes, and notations resembles a diagram, but one that has been written over and reworked to create a layered depth and to suggest the passage of time. These diagrammatic markings may be attributed in part to the artist’s fascination with the drawings in Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks—especially the sketches of maelstroms and water currents. The words "water chart" scrawled at the painting’s top right may refer to Leonardo’s drawings, as well as to the remains of the ancient aqueducts that surround the city of Rome, where Twombly moved in 1957.