Rome, Twombly's home since the 1950s, has nurtured his fascination with classical antiquity. In this work he refers to the Roman myth in which Jupiter, lord of the gods, takes the shape of a swan in order to ravish Leda, the beautiful mother of Helen (over whom the Trojan war would be fought). Twombly's version of this old art-historical theme supplies no contrast of feathers and flesh but a fusion of violent energies in furiously thrashing overlays of crayon, pencil, and ruddy paint. A few recognizable signs—hearts, a phallus—fly out from this explosion, in stark contrast to the sober windowlike rectangle near the top of the painting.
Gallery label from 2007.