This exhibition showcases Cy Twombly's monumental painting Treatise on the Veil (Second Version), executed in Rome in 1970, and its related drawings, all from the Menil Collection in Houston. Not shown in New York City for nearly thirty years and rarely on display at the Menil due to its size (nearly 33 feet in length), the painting marks a pivotal moment in the career of one of the most important artists to emerge in the wake of Abstract Expressionism. Inspired by a musical piece, Treatise on the Veil is a meditation on time and space. The preparatory drawings, which combine pencil, crayon, collage, tape, measurements, and other inscriptions, offer a fascinating window into the artist's creative process.
Twombly (1928-2011) was born in Lexington, Virginia. He studied at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts and the Art Students League of New York and also under Abstract Expressionists Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Early travels to Europe and North Africa nourished his interest in ancient art and mythology. In 1957 Twombly moved to Rome, where he lived most of his life. References to antiquity and the Renaissance abound in his art, which is characterized by a rich repertoire of marks, scrawls, scribbles, doodles, and scratches—at once expressive of a gestural approach and of cultural symbols. The two paintings entitled Treatise on the Veil (the first version, painted in 1968, is in the Ludwig Museum in Cologne) are highlights of Twombly's "grey-ground" period, which spanned from 1966 to the early 1970s, in which thin white lines running across a grey background convey an increasingly lyrical feel.
This exhibition was organized by the Menil Collection, Houston, with the Morgan Library & Museum, New York.
It is a program of the Drawing Institute at the Morgan Library & Museum, with generous support provided by an anonymous gift, the Gagosian Gallery, the Ricciardi Family Exhibition Fund, and Nancy Schwartz.
At the Menil Collection, this exhibition was realized through the generous support of Janie C. Lee and David B. Warren; the Taub Foundation in memory of Ben Taub, Henry J. N. Taub, and Carol J. Taub; Ann and Mathew Wolf; Nina and Michael Zilkha; and the City of Houston.