Cy Twombly, Veil of Orpheus, 1968, house paint, crayon, and graphite pencil on primed canvas, 90 × 192 inches (228.6 × 487.7 cm). Private collection © Cy Twombly Foundation.
In the mid-1950s, following travels in Europe and Africa, Cy Twombly emerged as a prominent figure among a group of artists working in New York that included Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. In 1968, the Milwaukee Art Center mounted his first retrospective. This was followed by major retrospectives at the Whitney Museum, New York (1979); Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland (1987, traveled to Palacio de Velásquez/Palacio de Cristal, Madrid; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris); and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1994, traveled to The Menil Collection, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin). In 1995, the Cy Twombly Gallery opened at The Menil Collection, Houston, exhibiting works made by the artist since 1954. The European retrospective “Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons” opened at Tate Modern, London in June 2008 (traveled to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain; and National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rome, in 2009).
Cy Twombly was born in 1928 in Lexington, Virginia, and died in 2011 in Rome, Italy. He studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1947–49); Art Students League, New York (1950–51); and Black Mountain College, North Carolina (1951–52). Recent solo exhibitions include “Cy Twombly: Fifty Years of Works on Paper,” State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (2003, traveled to the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Serpentine Gallery, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and The Menil Collection, Houston, through 2005); Tate Modern, London (2008); “Cy Twombly: The Natural World, Selected Works 2000–2007,” Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois (2009); “Sensations of the Moment,” Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna (2009); “Cy Twombly Tribute: A Scattering of Blossoms & Other Things,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2011); “Cy Twombly Photographs 1951–2010,” Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2011); “Cy Twombly: Sculpture,” Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011–12); “Cy Twombly: Sculptures,” Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania (2013); Diocesan Museum, Italy (2014); “Cy Twombly: Paradise,” Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2014); “Cy Twombly: Treatise on the Veil,” Morgan Library & Museum, New York (2014); “Cy Twombly: Paradise,” Ca’ Pesaro, Venice (2015); and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2016). In 2010, his permanent site-specific painting Ceiling was unveiled in the Salle des Bronzes at the Musée du Louvre; at the same time he was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by the French government.