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Two major Twomblys at Sotheby’s this May

March 19, 2016

Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1968 [New York City]
Oil based houseplant, wax crayon on canvas: 60-5/8 x 68-1/2 inches
Signed, inscribed and dated verso upper left: Cy Twombly NYC 1968
Catalogue Raisonne Vol. III, number 52

The lead up to the May postwar and contemporary art sales in New York includes this announcement from Sotheby’s about two significant paintings by Cy Twombly:

On 11 May 2016 Sotheby’s New York will offer Untitled (New York City) by Cy Twombly in the Contemporary Art Evening Sale. The work is the only painting from the famed Blackboard series executed with blue loops on grey ground and boasts a remarkable history. It was acquired by the current owner from the artist’s studio immediately after it For Immediate Release  was executed in 1968, and has not been seen in public since. Untitled (New York City) is expected to fetch in excess of $40 million; it goes on view at Sotheby’s Los Angeles on 24 March before exhibition in Hong Kong and London.

Grégoire Billault, Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department in New York commented: “As a unique example from Cy Twombly’s most celebrated series, that boasts unbeatable provenance, and appears at a time of unprecedented auction interest in the artist, Untitled (New York City) is set to be the outstanding highlight of the May series of sales in New York.”

Untitled (New York City) is a one-off example of the artist’s most hallowed series of Blackboard paintings through which he forged a new visual language in a period of great convergence in postwar art. However, unlike every other Blackboard painting that bears white loops, in Untitled (New York City) Twombly used a blue, rather than white, wax crayon to create the endless overlapping loops on the wet paint. At over 28 square feet, the work belongs to the elite group of large-scale works by Twombly that can be found in the world’s great museums including: The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Menil Collection, Houston; and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. The appearance of Untitled (New York City) at auction comes just six months after Sotheby’s set a record for the artist with Untitled [New York City], 1968 from the collection of Los Angeles philanthropist Audrey Irmas. That work was the second Twombly Blackboard to exceed $65 million in the previous 18 months.

Twombly: Untitled (Bacchus 1st Version V).

Cy Twombly Untitled (Bacchus 1st Version V)
Acrylic, wax crayon on wooden panel (in artist’s frame): 98-1/2 x 74-3/4 inches
Signed with initials, dated and inscribed verso center: C. T. 04 Gaeta
Catalogue Raisonne Vol V, number 32.

The sale will also include a major late Twombly: Untitled (Bacchus 1st Version V). The appearance of the 2004 work in May marks the first time an example from the series, that is widely recognized as defining the artist’s late work, has appeared at auction. The painting is expected to fetch in excess of $20 million and will also be on view in Los Angeles alongside highlights by Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol.

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