CY TWOMBLY, Photographer at the American Academy in Rome

Cy Twombly, Painting Detail, Bassano in Teverina, 1985


The first retrospective exhibition of photographs by renowned American artist and long time resident Cy Twombly  features work spanning over fifty years. Principally known for his paintings and sculpture, Twombly found in photography a medium equally suited to his thoughtful eye. The photographic archive maintained by the Nicola Del Roscio Foundation, from which the selection for this exhibition is drawn, provides unique perspective upon the varied interests and transatlantic career of one of the twentieth century’s most revered artists.

Standing on their own as indelibly evocative and poetic compositions, Twombly’s photographs nonetheless also offer valuable insight into his creative mind and the private realm of his studio.  Recording observations of the artist’s own paintings and sculpture in various stages of completion, they scrutinize, too, sometimes from unexpected angles, details of classical sculpture and paintings by other artists. With blurry intensity, Twombly set his photographic sights on still life motifs, including fruit and flowers from the garden in Gaeta overlooking the sea, landscapes and portraits of friends and family. Drawing out the historical echoes in the artist’s photographs, including subtle references Julia Margaret Cameron’s atmospheric portraits and early photogenic prints by Henry Fox-Talbot, the exhibition aims to show how Twombly’s photographs were related to, but also distinct from his paintings, drawings and sculpture.

Cy Twombly enjoyed a long association with the American Academy in Rome. A visiting artist in 1980, he also served as Trustee. In 2006, he was awarded the McKim medal, named for Academy founder Charles Follen McKim, which the Academy awards annually to an individual whose work and life exemplify creative and intellectual exchange across the arts, scholarship, language and culture. Twombly also created the distinctive design of the medal. The Italian Fellowship in the Visual Arts, given to a talented emerging Italian artist every year at the culmination of a juried competition, was named in Twombly’s honor. The exhibition of Twombly’s photographs is not the first to examine a specific aspect of the artist’s career; Cy Twombly: 8 Sculptures, accompanied by a text by Giorgio Agamben, was held in the Academy gallery in 1998.

The exhibition, which runs through November 22, is held in conjunction with Fotografia, the Rome International Photography Festival, and is curated by Peter Benson Miller, Andrew Heiskell Arts Director at the American Academy in Rome. It is organized with the generous support and collaboration of the Fondazione Nicola Del Roscio and the Nicola Del Roscio Archives.

Collateral events:
7 October 2015
Sally Mann – A reading from her memoir Hold Still
6pm, Lecture Room

20 November 2015
Nicholas Cullinan – Cy Twombly: Rewriting History
6:30pm, Lecture Room

Cy Twombly, Painting Detail (Roses), Gaeta, 2009


American Academy in Rome – Via Angela Masina 5, 00153 Roma
Opening – Wednesday October 3 from 6pm to 9pm
The exhibition is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4pm to 7pm until 22 November 2015.