Born in Lexington, Virginia, Cy Twombly
(American, 1928–2011) belongs to the Post-Abstract Expressionist generation. He moved to New York in the early 1950s to attend the Art Students League, where he met artist Robert Rauschenberg
(American, 1925–2008), who encouraged him to attend the Black Mountain College, then at the height of its influence. Inspired by the faculty and fellow students at these two institutions, Twombly’s early works draw on a gestural abstraction, similar to the work of Franz Kline
(American, 1910–1962), but he quickly developed a personal graffiti-like style, laden with references to literature.
In 1957, after traveling around Europe, a stint the army, and briefly living in New York, Twombly settled permanently in Italy, which strengthened his engagement with classical literature, history, and mythology. He became most famous for his large-scale scribbled graffiti paintings, which blur the line between drawing and painting, though he also created a number of sculptures that frequently refer to mythology. For many years, Twombly was better known in Europe than in the United States, but today he is recognized worldwide as one of the most inventive painters of his generation.