In 1971, Nini Pirandello, the wife of Twomblys Roman gallerist Plinio De Martiis, died suddenly. In tribute, Twombly painted the elegiac Ninis Paintings. The series seems to embody an absence impossible to articulate, with obsessive marks on the verge of recognisable words or figures that crumble and dissolve before our gaze. The calligraphic lines, frustration and failed articulation of Twomblys paintings from the mid-1950s are combined with his restrained style of the late 1960s, to create an entirely new and distinct body of work, one that attests to the variation of patterns and series contained with Twomblys own oeuvre.
The rippled and undulating lines, wave after wave, suggest the convulsive surface of water and recall Leonardo da Vincis sketches and writings on deluges, cataclysms and floods, which fascinated Twombly at the time.