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Cy Twombly (American, 1928–2011)
LOT ID: 77751
Sarajevo, 1984

Lithograph, Aquatint Etching
35 х 24.5 in. (88.9 x 62.23 cm.)
Signed, with the initials "CT" and hand numbered from the edition of 150 by the artist, lower recto
Edition 150
Foundry/Publisher Pressing Company, Roma, prntr.; Visconti Art Spectrum, Wien, pub.
Lot description
The Yugoslavian Olympic Committee asked Twombly to make a print for the Winter Games of 1984. Twombly referenced the ancient origins of the games by using the same characteristic scrawl that he had previously used for his 1976 series "Six Latin Writers and Poets." It has been observed that Twombly's writing is like "a great and comprehensive memory of the Mediterranean, a firmament that reflects the recurring meridians of its myths and metamorphoses. The genesis of the antique culture of the Mediterranean pervades this universe of imagery...Twombly here achieves again and again: revitalizing the tracings of the hand, to write in archaic symbols a poetry of temptation and possession." (From an essay on Twombly entitled "Non Multa Sed Multim" by Roland Barthes, 1979)

Sadly, Cy Twombly died in July 2011. He is considered one of the greatest artists of the post-war era. In a tribute to Twombly, critic Jerry Saltz said Twombly helped “move painting beyond the heroic domains of Abstract Expressionism. Where his predecessors worked in brawny swaths of paint, Twombly focused on the delicate, scratching and scribbling, fusing looping calligraphic line, odd marks, raw smudges, blackboard-like scrawls, and gorgeous visceral color with intimations of myth, narrative, and a Whitman-esque feel for effusion and the erotic. (Roland Barthes once wrote that Twombly’s marks conjure “English colleges, Latin verses, desks, notations in finely written pencil.”) …..Over the final decade of his life Twombly equaled his original work and surpassed it, making tremendous late abstract works that tell vast tales of ancient armies, otherworldly invasions of burning suns and radiating chrysanthemums. Works from this period invoke twelfth-dynasty Egyptian pharaohs; armadas of barges at sea; chariots of color; exoduses, love, loss, and longing. Convulsive brushstrokes, surging bursts of light, handwritten scribbles, epic format, and luxuriant saturated color, combine to create something majestic, almost like fresco painting. Twombly not only didn’t go gentle into any good night — he’d embarked on a voyage to some painterly place where uncontrollable feelings, experience, expectation, dreams, and love become one...”

Cy Twombly began his career in New York in the mid-1950s, a time when he shared a studio space with Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. In 1957, Twombly moved to Italy and later Rome. His last exhibition was entitled Twombly and Poussin: Arcadian Painters and went on display at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London on June 29th, 2011 less than a week before the artist’s death. The show was conceived around a quote by Twombly “I would’ve liked to have been Poussin, if I’d had a choice, in another time.”

Catalogue Raisonne note: The print was executed for the Yugoslavian Olympic Committee on the occasion of the Winter Games in Sarajevo
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Sarajevo by Cy Twombly
  • Sarajevo by Cy Twombly
  • Sarajevo by Cy Twombly
  • Sarajevo by Cy Twombly
  • Sarajevo by Cy Twombly
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