Museum of Modern Art Opens Cy Twombly Sculpture: an Exhibition of Recently Acquired Works

The Museum of Modern Art presents Cy Twombly: Sculpture, an exhibition of seven sculptures recently acquired from the artist’s collection, ranging in date from 1954 to 2005. These sculptures, the first by Twombly to enter the Museum’s collection, will be on view from May 20 through October 3, 2011. Cy Twombly: Sculpture is organized by Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art.

Cy Twombly, Tiznit, 1953. White lead, oil based house paint, wax crayon and lead pencil on canvas. 53 ½ x 74 ½” (135.9x 189.2 cm) © 2011 Cy Twombly

Twombly’s sculptures are an integral but little known aspect of his practice over the course of the last six decades. These works are generally made from found materials, plaster, wood, and white paint, and their humble origins remain readily evident in the finished works. Most are intimate in scale, because it is important to the artist that he be able to manipulate the works himself in the studio. The place where a work is made is significant for Twombly; he created the sculptures on display in studios in New York City, Rome, Naples, Florida, and Virginia over five decades, and in each place he has found the materials that make up each sculpture.

The seven sculptures represent the full span of Twombly’s career, beginning with two of his few surviving sculptures of the 1950s: Untitled (Funerary Box for a Lime-Green Python) (1954) and Untitled (1955), which represent the beginning of Twombly’s sculptural activity and show a relationship to his painting at this pivotal moment in his work. The remaining sculptures were executed between 1976 and 2005, all representing different moments in Twombly’s explorations of the medium.

Twombly’s sculptures engage in an ongoing dialogue with his paintings, due in part to their own richly painted surfaces. Two recently acquired paintings by Twombly hang near the sculptures within The Alfred H. Barr Painting and Sculpture Galleries. Tiznit, one of a small number of paintings that Twombly made in New York City during the summer of 1953, is the earliest work by the artist in MoMA’s collection. Academy, painted in New York in the summer of 1955, presents the birth of Twombly’s own artistic language: legible letters and words give way to scrawling and scribbling, jittery lines, and scratches, with the artist reconfiguring the acts of writing, drawing, and painting in order to provoke a new way of seeing.

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