Cy Twombly (b. 1928, Lexington, Va.; d. 2011, Rome) was one of the most relevant and influential artists of his generation. In the early 1950s he studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the prestigious Art Students League in New York, and at Black Mountain College near Ashville, North Carolina. While at the Art Students League he met fellow artist Robert Rauschenberg. The two artists, who were close in age and shared many common interests, established a lifelong friendship. Twombly was intensely fascinated by classical literature and history, both of which had a significant influence on his artistic language and creations.
Committed to collecting Twombly’s work, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has acquired the series Nine Discourses on Commodus (1963). The work around which the exhibition is designed, it consists of nine distinct canvases and was the first of the artist’s series to be conceived as a unified whole. The exhibition features Twombly’s work in series, including the earlier five-canvas Ferragosto (1961), which, unlike its successor, can be viewed as individual paintings. Other important series included in this major exhibition are Hero and Leandro (1984) and Quattro Stagioni (1993-94).
The selection of nearly one hundred paintings, drawings, and sculptures examine Twombly’s lengthy career and the singular nature of his work. Cy Twombly offers a closer look at the spirit of this marvellous artist who, as exhibition curator Carmen Giménez points out, "not only irradiates a fascinating personal magic, but has also taken us to the most intricate frontiers of contemporary painting."