Cy Twombly - Cycles And Seasons At Tate Modern

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 18 June 2008
an abstract painting of browns reds and puples

Cy Twombly , Ferragosto V 1961. Private Collection. Courtesy Thomas Ammann Fine Art, Zürich © Cy Twombly

Exhibition notice - Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons at Tate Modern until September 14 2008.

For its new exhibition showcasing the work of American painter Cy Twombly, Tate have brought together, for the first time, two of the artist’s great painting series from the 1990s.

Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons unites The Four Seasons 1994-5 from the Tate Collection and The Four Seasons 1993-4 from The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Comprising two sets of four enormous canvases, The Four Seasons (also known as Quattro Stagioni), are among the most popular permanent exhibits at Tate Modern.

Their subject is the annual cycle of spring, summer, autumn and winter with titles in the Italian translation: Primavera, Estate, Autunno and Inverno and they create a moment of huge impact in an exhibition that presents a unique opportunity to examine the paintings, drawings and sculpture of an important artist with a long and influential career.

Born in Lexington Virginia in 1928, Cy Twombly studied in Boston, and New York, where he met Robert Rauschenberg at the Art Students League in 1950. He later attended the influential Black Mountain College in North Carolina, which fuelled his interest in the calligraphic and automatic drawing technique of the Surrealists.

Like Jackson Pollock he is a giant of post war modern art and also like Pollock he is an artist with a highly recognisable graphic style.

an abstract painting of green swirls, scrawls in red against a white background

Cy Twombly, Wilder Shores of Love (Bassano in Teverina) 1985. Cy Twombly Collection © Cy twombly

Arranged broadly chronologically, the exhibition features concentrated groups of related paintings from key periods - including other examples of Twombly’s monumental series of paintings, interspersed with more intimate rooms devoted to drawings or sculpture.

The exhibition reunites the Ferragosto paintings from 1961, the enormous Veil works from the late 1960s and the Nini’s paintings from 1971. There are also examples of his most recent work such as the Bacchus paintings from 2005.

In addition it offers an opportunity to follow the development of a major artist who rubbed shoulders with many key Surrealists and abstract expressionists of the post war period.

During the mid 1950s, he shared a studio and worked closely alongside Rauschenberg in Manhattan. Works from this time reveal dispersed patches and stretches of pencil and crayon across acrylic or oil on canvas fields.

Twombly’s move to Italy in 1957 coincided with a shift away from Abstract Expressionism to a mature style inspired by poetry, mythology, the classics and European history and literature. He introduced rich colour and words which allude to classical themes into his works.

an abstract painting of black and red swirls and faded writing against a white background

Cy Twombly, Quattro stagioni, Part III: Autunno 1993-94. MoMA © The Artist

By 1959 numbers had followed words into such images as the Poems to the Sea series of drawings. Signatures were joined, at the start of the sixties, by pencilled titles and notations of the places and dates of the works’ completion.

The late 1970s saw him resume making sculpture after a period of seventeen years and the exhibition will include rooms devoted to his sculptures from that decade and the early 1980s. In the eighties, his focus on water emerged as is illustrated in the Green paintings from 1988 and the Hero and Leandro works from 1984. During the nineties Twombly remained devoted to themes from nature, in particular the four seasons and flowers.

Curated by Tate Director, Nicholas Serota in close discussion with the artist, the exhibition will travel to The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, in October 2008 before moving on to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome in February 2009.

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