top of page


"My line is childlike, but not childish. It is very difficult to fake" - Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly, Sahara (1960), Oil, crayon and pencil on canvas, 203 x 275 cm, Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery

Artist Biography

Cy Twombly (born on 25 April, 1928 in Lexington, Virginia) was an American artist whose gigantic line paintings established him as one of the most well-known Abstract Expressionist painters. Apart from painting, Twombly was a sculptor and photographer. Although he was a very artistic person, his father dubbed him "Cy" after baseball player Denton "Cy" Young.

Growing up, Twombly developed an interest in painting when he ordered art kits from the Sears Roebuck catalogue. Then, he studied under Spanish artist Pierre Daura. At adulthood, Twombly pursued formal art training the School of Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he was influenced by Dadaism, Surrealism and the works of Alberto Giacometti. In 1950, he moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League.

Cy Twombly, Red Painting (1961), Oil on canvas, 165 x 203 cm, Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery

During his studies, Twombly met Robert Rauschenberg, whom he befriended. They traveled to Italy, where it influenced them to exhibit their work together. While both of them exhibited their work, it was poorly received by the public. Despite the hostile reception, they found success as artists.

In 1957, Twombly moved to Rome before settling in Gaeta, a seaside town, with his wife Baroness Tatiana Fachetti. He died in 2008.

Auction Results

In November 2016, Sotheby's sold Twomblys' Untitled (New York City) for $36.7 million dollars. Moreover, Twombly's Untitled (Bacchus) sold for $15.4 million at the same auction. Within the same ranks as the aforementioned Twombly paintings, Art Price reported that Twombly's work sold for at least more than $15 million in 2004. As of now, Christie's will be selling Twomblys' Leda and the Swan at at maximum of $55 million this upcoming May.

Cy Twombly, Untitled (Bacchus 1st version V) (2004), Acrylic, oil stick and crayon on wood, 266 by 200.7 cm, Courtesy of Sotheby's

Cy Twombly, Leda and the Swan (1962), Oil, pencil and crayon on canvas, 190.5 x 200 cm, Courtesy of Christie’s New York

Cy Twombly, Untitled (New York) (1968), Oil and crayon on canvas, 172.7 x 228.6 cm, Courtesy of Sotheby's

Current Works on Sale

Cy Twombly, 1986 (1986), 75 x 56 cm, in EHC Fine Art, Washington D.C.

Cy Twombly, Roman Notes VI, from Roman Notes (1970), 86.7 x 69.9 cm, 54/100, in Christie's, New York

Cy Twombly, Lemons (Gaeta) (2006), 43.1 x 27.9 cm, Edition of 6, in SAGE Paris, Paris

Cy Twombly, Untitled (1967), 65.4 x 55.6 cm, in Upsilon Gallery, New York

Selected Past Shows

Cy Twombly: A Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, Sept. 24, 1994 - Jan. 10, 1995

Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons, Tate Modern, London, UK, June 19 - Sept. 14, 2008

Cy Twombly: Sculptures, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, Sept. 24, 2013 - March 27, 2016

Current and Upcoming Shows

Cy Twombly: Orpheus, Gagosian, Paris, FR, Dec. 1, 2016 - April 22, 2017

Cy Twombly, Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR, Nov. 30 2016 - April 24, 2017


  • Cy Twombly's Leda and the Swan from the Christie's auction was unseen for 25 years

  • Twombly did not add color to his paintings until the 1960s

  • His father was the pitcher for the Chicago White Sox

  • Twombly served in the U.S. army from 1953 to 1954 as a code breaker

  • He produced his drawings underneath bed sheets

  • He disliked working with oil

  • To produce his famous black and white paintings, Twombly sat on the shoulders of his friend to move back and forth across the canvas without stopping

"Paint is something that I use with my hands and do all those tactile things. I really don't like oil because you can't get back into it, or you make a mess. It's not my favorite thing... pencil is more my medium than wet paint" - Cy Twombly


bottom of page