Yesterday the revered abstract painter Cy Twombly—born Edwin Parker Twombly Jr. in Lexington, Virginia, on April 25th, 1928—died at a hospital in Rome at age 83 after a long battle with cancer. In the early 50s he kept a studio on William Street in Lower Manhattan studied at New York’s Art Students League, where he befriended fellow student Robert Rauschenberg, and the pair’s travels around the Mediterranean eventually led Twombly to relocated to Italy in 1957.
Always an outsider, Twombly moved to Europe as the art world shifted towards America, and developed his unique style of minute expressionistic scrawling on huge monochrome compositions in the face of anachronistic post-war movements like Minimalism, Pop art and Conceptualism. That didn’t keep him from showing at the gallery of Pop art’s most influential promoter, Leo Castelli, nor from being included in a whopping six Whitney Biennials between 1967 and 1995.
Today Twombly is represented by Gagosian Gallery, whose owner Larry Gagosian said in a statement that’s since been removed from the mega-gallery’s website:
The art world has lost a true genius and a completely original talent, and for those fortunate enough to have known him, a great human being… We will not soon see a talent of such amazing scope and intensity. Even though Cy might have been regarded as reclusive, he didn’t retreat to an ivory tower. He was happy to remain connected and live in the present.
Fittingly, Twombly’s work is currently on view at Gagosian’s Rome outpost in an exhibition entitled Made in Italy. Over a half-dozen of his works from the 50s and 60s are currently on view at MoMA, including “Leda and the Swan,” from 1962.