Collection 1940s–1970s

Cy Twombly. Academy. New York 1955 460

Oil-based house paint, pencil, colored pencil, and pastel on canvas, 75 1/4 x 94 7/8" (191.1 x 241 cm). Mary Sisler bequest, Richard S. Zeisler bequest, and gift of Mrs. Sam A. Lewisohn (all by exchange)

Curator, Ann Temkin: 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.

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.

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, he’s saying look, 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.

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