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On view  |  Painting and Sculpture II, Gallery 18, Floor 4

Cy Twombly. Academy. New York 1955

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Cy Twombly (American, 1928–2011)


New York 1955
Oil-based house paint, lead pencil, colored pencil, and pastel on canvas
75 1/4 x 94 7/8" (191.1 x 241 cm)
Credit Line:
Mary Sisler bequest, Richard S. Zeisler bequest, and gift of Mrs. Sam A. Lewisohn (all by exchange)
MoMA Number:
Audio Program excerpt

MoMA Audio: Collection

, 2013

Director, Glenn Lowry: In this 1955 work by Cy Twombly, we can see the evolution of a style that would become his signature over the next fifty years.

Curator, Ann Temkin: This wasn't a conventional canvas. It was a cheap piece of cloth, like what you would use as a drop cloth. And it wasn't paint. It was pencil. The only paint you see is the white background that he used house paint to make.

Glenn Lowry: Twombly ironically titled this work Academy, because it does not resemble anything he would have been taught to make at art school.

Ann Temkin: It's a style that looks like an absolutely anti-style, and a lot of people might even bring up the question, why is this even painting? Here, hes saying lookit, I can make something that'll be on canvas, that'll be stretched into a rectangle, that'll hang on two nails on a wall, as if it were a picture. And yet I'm not going to give you anything that you would have expected to be given, in something that would be called a painting. For Twombly and for every other modern artist, what mattered was to come up with something original that did not look like all the painting that came before it.

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