The Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130, 215-763-8100) announced the acquisition of five major sculptures by Cy Twombly, one of the foremost American artists of the 20th century. This generous gift of the Cy Twombly Foundation will make these works, which were initially selected for exhibition at the Museum in 2011 by the artist himself, a permanent part of the Museum’s collection.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art contains one of the country’s most important collections of Cy Twombly’s works. In 1989, the Philadelphia Museum of Art became the first public institution in the United States to devote a room to the permanent display of Twombly’s art with Fifty Days at Iliam. From April 2012 until March 2016, a selection of six sculptures, including the five works recently given to the Museum, was placed on view in the Atrium Gallery of Perelman Building.
These bronzes including Untitled, Rome, 1980; Rotalla, Zurich, 1990; Untitled, Rome, 1997; Victory, conceived 1987, cast 2005; and Anabasis (Bronze), 2011, were chosen by Twombly because they complemented his masterful Fifty Days at Iliam, 1978, a suite of 10 monumental canvases that the Museum acquired in 1989. Varied in size and shape, with richly textured surfaces, these works, although fundamentally abstract, are informed by a classical sensibility and clearly reflect the artist’s sustained engagement with the art of the ancient world. On November 19, 2016, the sculptures will be placed on view in galleries 184 and 185, alongside related loans and works by Twombly from the collection.
Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and CEO, stated: “The Museum is deeply grateful to the Cy Twombly Foundation for this extraordinary gift. Like the artist’s Fifty Days at Iliam, this remarkable group of sculptures evokes the timeless themes sounded in Homer’s account of the Trojan War and offers a profound meditation on both classical history and the nature of modernity. They represent an enormously important addition to our holdings of work by this great artist, who is a key figure in the history of contemporary art. They will be united with a sixth sculpture by the artist, which is a promised gift of Keith L. and Katherine Sachs, and two important paintings from the bequest of Daniel Dietrich.”
Carlos Basualdo, the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, said: “For more than 25 years our Museum has dedicated a gallery to the display of Twombly’s work. The generous gift of this extraordinary group of sculptures deepens even further the strong connection between Philadelphia and the work of an artist whose influence and legacy are more than ever strong and alive.”
Cy Twombly (1928–2011) was born in Lexington, Virginia. He attended 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). He lived much of his later life in Rome.
His work has been the subject of numerous retrospectives at venues such as Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris (1988), the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1994), Tate Modern in London (2008), and Art Institute of Chicago (2009). In 1995, the Cy Twombly Gallery opened in Houston, exhibiting works made by the artist after 1954. His sculptures were the subject of a retrospective exhibition in 2001, presented at the Kunstmuseum in Basel, the National Gallery in Washington and the Menil Collection.
After reaching a maturity in his early sculpture, created from 1946 to 1959, Twombly returned to working in three dimensions in the mid-1970s and continued to cast new works until his death.
Nicola Del Roscio, President of the Cy Twombly Foundation, stated: “I am happy that the Foundation was able to make this gift as I know how happy Cy himself would have been.“
This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will lend Fifty Days at Iliam for the first time, to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, where this cycle of paintings will serve as one of the keystones of a major retrospective of Twombly’s work that will be presented from November 30, 2016 through April 24, 2017. When these works return to the Museum, they will be installed together with the Twombly sculptures for several months.