Yoko Ono Biography

Edwin Parker ‘Cy’ Twombly, Jr., a renowned American painter and sculptor, was deeply influenced by the Spanish artist Pierre Daura during his formative years. After receiving formal training in art, Twombly delved into German Expressionism, Dadaism, and Soutine’s work. He also explored sculpting, creating statuettes from discarded materials. Inspired by his sponsored tours to Europe and Africa, Twombly’s works showcased an amalgamation of poignant expansiveness and scholarly sophistication, with a profound focus on cultural memory. His unique artistic style, influenced by his brief stint as a cryptologist in the U.S. Army, featured effortless graphic marks and a meta-script using abridged signs, numbers, and uncomplicated hieroglyphs. Twombly’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures, particularly those centered around mythology, are considered an important part of cultural memory. Alongside Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, Twombly is recognized as one of the key artists who broke away from Abstract Expressionism.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Edwin Parker Twombly Jr.
  • Died At Age: 83
  • Died on: July 5, 2011
  • Place of Death: Rome, Italy
  • Notable Alumni: Lexington High School, School Of The Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston, Art Students League Of New York, Black Mountain College, Darlington School
  • U.S. State: Virginia
  • Ancestry: American Italian
  • Cause of Death: Cancer
  • Education: Washington And Lee University, Black Mountain College, Art Students League Of New York, School Of The Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston, Darlington School, Lexington High School
  • Awards: Praemium Imperiale

Childhood & Early Life

Cy Twombly was born on 25 April 1928 in Lexington, Virginia. His father, Edwin Parker ‘Cy’ Twombly, was a baseball player who pitched for the Chicago White Sox. At the age of twelve to fourteen, Twombly began his relationship with art by taking private lessons with Pierre Daura. He graduated from Lexington High School in 1946 and joined Darlington School in Rome. He studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from 1948 to 1949 and at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia from 1949 to 1950. He then received a scholarship to study at the Art Students League of New York from 1950 to 1951. It was there that he met Robert Rauschenberg, who convinced him to attend Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Twombly attended Black Mountain College from 1951 to 1952, where he met influential figures such as Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Ben Shahn. He was also deeply influenced by poet Charles Olson, who was the rector of the college.


In 1951, Twombly had his first independent exhibition arranged by the Samuel M. Kootz Gallery in New York City. He was influenced by Kline’s black-and-white gestural expressionism and Paul Klee’s imagery. In 1952, he received an allowance from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to travel to North Africa and Europe, accompanied by Robert Rauschenberg. He served as a cryptologist in the U.S. Army in 1954, which later influenced his artistic style. During his leave periods, he would often travel to New York to paint. From 1955 to 1956, he worked as a teacher at Southern Virginia University and continued to travel to New York during summer holidays to paint. By 1959, he had become a well-known artist, known for his thin white lines on dark canvases. He also achieved success as a sculptor during this time, but quit sculpting in 1959. From 1962 onward, mythology became a recurrent theme in his artwork. He created several notable works during this period, including “Leda and the Swan” and “The Birth of Venus”. In the mid-1970s, he started incorporating colors, written inscriptions, and collage elements into his art to evoke scenery. He also began making sculptures again in 1976. Throughout his career, he continued to depict literature and mythology in his art.

Major Works

Some of Twombly’s significant works include his series of paintings depicting the rape of Leda by Zeus/Jupiter, as well as “Leda and the Swan” and “The Birth of Venus”. He also created the monumental painting “Four Seasons” in 1994, which he gifted to the Museum of Modern Art. In 2010, he designed a large-scale picture titled “Bacchus” for the Vienna State Opera.

Awards & Achievements

Twombly received several awards and honors throughout his career. In 1984, he received the Internationaler Preis für bildende Kunst des Landes Baden-Württemberg, followed by the Rubens-Peis der Stadt Siegen in 1987 and the prestigious Praemium Imperiale in 1996. He was awarded the Golden Lion at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001. In 2010, he was honored with the Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur by the French government. He also had the honor of having his permanent site painting, “Ceiling”, displayed at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1957, Twombly moved to Rome where he fell in love with Baroness Tatiana Franchetti. They got married in New York in 1959 and had a son named Cyrus Alessandro Twombly. After getting married, the couple bought a palazzo in Rome and owned a 17th-century villa. They remained married until Tatiana’s death in 2010. In 1964, Twombly met Nicola Del Roscio, who became his long-term assistant, archivist, and companion. He passed away on 5 July 2011 in Rome after battling cancer for many years. His art work and money were assigned to the Cy Twombly Foundation in his will.


Twombly used to sit on the shoulders of his friend and slide along the length of the canvas to create his famous “Grey Paintings”. In 2010, a film titled “Edwin Parker” was produced about him by Tacita Dean.

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