September 25, 2023


How Art Works

Cy Twombly and Clyfford Nonetheless at Public sale

10 min read



Cy Twombly

Untitled, 2005

Estimate: $35,000,000 – 45,000,000


On 15 November, Phillips’ Night Sale of twentieth Century & Modern Artwork in New York will probably be led by Cy Twombly’s monumental Untitled, 2005. With distinctive provenance and estimated at $35-45 million, Untitled is a masterpiece from certainly one of Twombly’s final epic collection that discovered its inception in his blackboards and crystallized within the three discrete suites of work collectively referred to as the Bacchus collection. The Bacchus work started in 2003 amidst the US invasion of Iraq and culminated in 2008 when the artist donated three of the monumental works to the Tate Trendy, London. The current work is the second-largest canvas from the 2005 collection which had been exhibited beneath the collective title Bacchus Psilax Mainomenos. Recalling the artist’s earlier Blackboard work from the late Nineteen Sixties with its steady looping types, the Bacchus collection revisits this earlier motif with a renewed vigor and vitality which manifests on the floor of Untitled.


Jean-Paul Engelen, President, Americas, and Worldwide Co-Head of twentieth Century & Modern Artwork, mentioned, “With the highest ten public sale costs for works by Cy Twombly having all been set prior to now eight years, it’s clear that the market is stronger than ever.  At sixteen toes vast, Untitled is among the many largest of Twombly’s works to ever seem at public sale, with its topic referring to the twin nature of the traditional Greek and Roman god of wine, intoxication, and debauchery. The work hails from the collection that marked Twombly’s final creative expression on the summit of his profession and we’re proud to supply this masterpiece because the spotlight of our Fall season.”


The interpretation of Bacchus Psilax Mainomenos references each the exuberance and rage that alcohol can carry, with Tate Director Nicholas Serota remarking concerning the work, “They relate clearly to the god of wine and to desert, and luxuriance, and freedom.” The work additionally recollects one of the violent and emotionally stirring moments of Iliad, when the Greek hero, Achilles, kills the Trojan prince, Hector, dragging his corpse in circles by way of the desert across the walled metropolis of Troy—simply as Twombly’s crimson line colours the bottom of Untitled.


The repetition of the legendary theme in Twombly’s work, significantly the continued invocation of Bacchus throughout the years, finds its stylistic parallel in Twombly’s signature, round, scrawling gesture.  Two extremes rise and fall inside one historic deity, biking, one over the opposite, simply as Twombly’s brush turns throughout the floor of Untitled. This gesture appeared within the artist’s earlier Blackboard collection of the Nineteen Sixties, making a reprise in Untitled, although with a a lot wilder crimson spiral.  The crimson line of Untitled is wealthy with emotive motion because the spiral turns and drips throughout the canvas, the results of Twombly doubtless utilizing his entire physique, swinging the comb, which he hooked up to an extended pole, throughout the canvas.

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Executed within the ultimate decade of Cy Twombly’s life, Untitled, 2004, pays homage to the Mediterranean sea of his adopted dwelling in Italy. It’s certainly one of ten work that comprise the artist’s acclaimed Untitled (Winter Photos) collection, which the artist painted within the winter of 2003-2004 from his dwelling in Gaeta. Constructing on Twombly’s epic collection Quattro Stagioni (A Portray in 4 Elements), 1993-1994, within the assortment of Museum of Trendy Artwork, New York, the collection Untitled (Winter Photos) factors to Twombly’s preoccupation with the classical leitmotif of nature’s seasons. A outstanding instance of Twombly’s inimitable painterly follow, Untitled is constructed up with coats of acrylic paint that the artist utilized to the picket panel with a mix of brush, fabric and hand. Whereas works from this collection usually function comparable cascading vertical strains, Untitled is certainly one of solely two portray distinguished by repeated round blotches that run in splattering rivulets like dripping clouds past the perimeters of the pictorial suppor

Cy Twombly, Leda and the Swan, 1962, oil, lead pencil and wax crayon on canvas

 Christie’s will provide Cy Twombly’s Leda and the Swan, 1962 as a spotlight of its Might 17 Submit-Conflict and Modern Artwork Night Sale. This unequivocal tour de pressure has resided inside a personal assortment for over 25 years and has not been seen publicly in all that point. One among two massive format masterpieces to emerge from this unbridled topic, Leda and the Swan’s heroic sister portray of the identical title is among the many hottest works on view inside the everlasting assortment of the Museum of Trendy Artwork in New York. By no means earlier than at public sale, the portray has solely had two non-public homeowners and is totally recent to the market (estimate $35-55million).

Koji Inoue, Worldwide Director, Submit-Conflict and Modern Artwork, remarked: 

“Hidden from public view for over 25 years, we’re thrilled to current certainly one of Cy Twombly’s absolute masterpieces in Leda and the Swan, 1962. It is a outstanding portray that has been pursued by collectors for many years. Impregnated with paint passionately and poetically utilized with the hand, brush and stick, Leda and the Swan, is without doubt one of the most significant canvases created throughout this transformative interval within the artist’s profession. Given its large significance inside the context of each Twombly’s oeuvre, and the canon of Submit-Conflict artwork, we’re honored to have the chance to supply this work to the market after almost thirty clandestine years. That is additionally a very thrilling time for the Twombly market, given its overlap with the Centre Pompidou’s groundbreaking retrospective of the artist’s expansive profession.”

With its vigorous software of paint and affectionate use of the hand, Leda and the Swan is an apex instance of the artist’s fusing of fantasy, eroticism and historical past. Revisiting the story of Leda’s seduction by the Greek god Zeus, or his Roman counterpart, Jupiter, within the type of a swan*, Twombly’s adaptation of this classical story impressed an more and more baroque tendency that emerged in his work through the early Nineteen Sixties, dramatically enriching the strongly tactile and sensual nature of his artwork. All through these work from the early Nineteen Sixties, the artist not solely arrives at, however absolutely executes a few of the most empowering themes discovered all through his oeuvre.

Leda and the Swan is a part of a cycle of works that resulted from the explosive and extremely bodily launch of ardour, seduction and visceral vitality that had outlined Twombly’s Ferragosto work, which had been executed all through the new summer season months of 1961. Demonstrating this new, distinctly Baroque mixture of eroticism and violence, Leda and the Swan exemplifies the “blood and foam” model that dominated the artist’s work till 1966.

The parable of “Leda and the Swan” is amongst dramatic and tumultuous themes in Twombly’s work of the early Nineteen SixtiesA magnum opus of the artist’s oeuvre, Leda and the Swan absolutely articulates Twombly’s need to defeat custom at the same time as he engaged with it. Immersing himself in historic Greek and Roman literature, Twombly demonstrates the breadth of the artist’s cultural immersion in his Mediterranean environment.

The public sale file for Cy Twombly was set by Untitled (New York Metropolis), oil based mostly home paint and wax crayon on canvas, 1968, which realized $70,530,000 in November 2015.

 On 11 Might 2016 Sotheby’s New York will provide Untitled (New York Metropolis) by Cy Twombly within the Modern Artwork Night Sale. The work is the one portray from the famed Blackboard collection executed with blue loops on gray floor and boasts a outstanding historical past. It was acquired by the present proprietor from the artist’ s studio instantly after it 2 was executed in 1968, and has not been seen in public since. Untitled (New York Metropolis) is predicted to fetch in extra of $40 million.

 Untitled (New York Metropolis) is a one-off instance of the artist’s most hallowed collection of Blackboard work by way of which he cast a brand new visible language in a interval of nice convergence in postwar artwork. Nonetheless, not like each different Blackboard portray that bears white loops, in Untitled (New York Metropolis) Twombly used a blue, reasonably than white, wax crayon to create the limitless ove rlapping loops on the moist paint. At over 28 sq. toes, the work belongs to the elite group of large-scale works by Twombly that may be discovered on the planet’s nice museums together with: The Museum of Modern Artwork, Los Angeles; The Menil Assortment, Houston; and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. 

The looks of Untitled (New York Metropolis) at public sale comes simply six months after Sotheby’s set a file for the artist with Untitled [New YorkCity], 1968 from the gathering of Los Angeles philanthropist Audrey Irmas. That work was the second Twombly Blackboard to exceed $65 million within the earlier 18 months. 

The sale may even embody a significant late Twombly: Untitled (Bacchus 1st Model V) . The looks of the 2004 work in Might marks the primary time an instance from the collection, that’s well known as defining the artist’s late work, has appeared at public sale. The portray is predicted to fetch in extra of $20 million and also will be on view in Los Angeles alongside highlights by Franci s Bacon and Andy Warhol.

On Might 10, Christie’s will function

Clyfford Nonetheless’s PH-234, 1948 (estimate: $25-35m)

among the many high a lot of its New York Night Sale of Submit-Conflict & Modern Artwork.

Nearly all of Nonetheless’s work resides within the collections of museums and establishments, together with the Clyfford Nonetheless Museum in Denver, making the looks of PH-234 a uncommon alternative to accumulate a unprecedented and iconic instance of Nonetheless’s work on the heights of his creative energy. In its’ almost 60 years PH-234 has solely had two earlier homeowners and was included in an main Nonetheless retrospective curated by James Demetrion at The Hirshhorn Museum in 2001, Clyfford Nonetheless: Work, 1944-1960.

 Laura Paulson, Chairman, Submit-Conflict and Modern Artwork, America’s, remarked: Clyfford Nonetheless’s work are among the many strongest and vital produced in latter a part of the 20th century, and we’re honored to current PH-234 in one of many uncommon situations that an instance of this magnitude comes onto the market from the artist. PH-234 is a consummate masterpiece by Nonetheless, which conveys the essence of his awe-inspiring oeuvre. Demonstrating Nonetheless’s distinctive model and approach, PH-234 shortly reveals the wealthy and nearly limitless potentialities of coloration, floor and area. Initially acquired in 1957 by visionary English collector, Ted Energy, who was one of many first English collectors to accumulate main examples of the New York College and Pop Artwork, PH-234 is a commanding illustration of the visceral efficiency of Summary Expressionism at its zenith.”

Nonetheless’s fame as one of many giants of Summary Expressionism is constructed upon this mastery of the painterly course of. Distinctive amongst his contemporaries, Nonetheless constructed up his richly textured floor by portray layer upon layer of richly pigmented oil paint fastidiously sculpting and making use of every brush stroke. Nonetheless would typically scrape away the floor solely to rebuild it once more, leading to a floor each densely layered with coloration or typically transcendent, conveying deep, mystical area. The spatial relationships created from this course of and Nonetheless’s imaginative and prescient, particularly as seen in PH-234, end in a composition that’s dynamic, nearly topographical, and what finally outlined Nonetheless’s mastery of the canvas and set him other than his colleagues comparable to Pollock, Newman and Rothko.

This portray was produced through the interval instantly after Nonetheless’s first nice solo exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim’s Artwork of this Century Gallery in February 1946. Within the introduction to the exhibition Nonetheless’s then buddy, Mark Rothko, associated Nonetheless’s new artwork to the epic and transcendent dimension of “Delusion” and defined how Nonetheless, “figuring out West, and alone,” had, with “unprecedented types and fully private strategies,” arrived at a very new manner of portray.  The easy, seemingly natural types of Nonetheless’s portray and its daring expansive fields of area and coloration made, “the remainder of us look tutorial” Jackson Pollock noticed on the time.
PH-234 was proven in Nonetheless’s first solo exhibition on the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1951, and bought in 1957 by E.J. “Ted” Energy, one of many nice collectors of worldwide postwar artwork. Starting within the mid-Nineteen Fifties, Energy sought out the latest and most radical artwork he might discover. He taught himself to discern what moved him and refined his eye to seek for high quality works by artists comparable to Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Barnett Newman. He acquired PH-234 in January 1957 after turning into enthralled with the work of the Summary Expressionists on the vital exhibition of recent American artwork organized by the Tate Gallery in London.

Nonetheless’s work, and examples comparable to PH-234, particularly characterize the head of Summary Expressionism—a pure type of portray that depends solely on its creator to precise the facility and intense visceral nature of its type. His finest works have an inherent energy that’s maybe finest summed up by Nonetheless himself, who in a uncommon second of retrospection characterised the elemental raison d’etre of his work when he concluded, “You may flip the lights out. The work will carry their very own fireplace” (C. Nonetheless, quoted in M. Auping, Clyfford Nonetheless, exh. cat. Trendy Artwork Museum of Fort Price, 2002, p. 303). This portray carries this hearth to its very core.  

Prime three tons for Clyfford Nonetheless at public sale

1. 1949-A-No. 1, oil on canvas, 1949 | Sale of Sotheby’s New York: Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Estimate: $25,000,000 – 35,000,000 | Value Realized: $61,682,500

2. 1947-Y-No. 2, oil on canvas, 1947 | Sale of Sotheby’s New York: Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Estimate: 15,000,000 – 20,000,000 | Value Realized: $31,442,500

3. 1947-R-no. 1, oil on canvas, 1947 | Sale of Christie’s New York: Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Estimate: $5,000,000 – 7,000,000 | Value Realized $21,296,000

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