Cy Twombly, 'Quattro Stagioni: Autunno' 1993-5

Cy Twombly
Quattro Stagioni: Autunno 1993-5
Acrylic, oil, crayon and pencil on canvas
support: 3136 x 2150 x 35 mm frame: 3230 x 2254 x 67 mm
Purchased with assistance from the American Fund for the Tate Gallery and Tate Members 2002© The estate of Cy Twombly

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Cy Twombly is regarded as one of the foremost painters in the world today, part of the generation of American artists who emerged after Abstract Expressionism and paved the way for new kinds of painting.

Twombly was born in Lexington, Virginia in 1928. He studied in Boston and New York at the height of Abstract Expressionism, and at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Developing an interest in the automatic techniques associated with the Surrealists, he incorporated dense pencil scribbles onto the surfaces of his early paintings. These graffiti-like scrawls subverted the calligraphic gestures of artists like Jackson Pollock, while introducing elements of hesitancy and fragility into Abstract Expressionism.

In the late 1950s he moved to Italy, signalling an important change in his work, which was increasingly marked by his love of poetry, a fascination for classical mythology and an engagement with the light and landscape of the Mediterranean.

This exhibition traces Twombly’s painting and sculpture from the 1950s to the present, giving special focus to discrete cycles of work. Each series bears witness to both the time and place of its making, showing the artist’s growth and development, but also testifying to his deep commitment to the art of painting and his concerns with the natural world, the seasons and the passing of time.

Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons is curated by Nicholas Serota with Nicholas Cullinan.