Cy Twombly (19282011) is widely acknowledged as one of the postwar period’s most influential American artists, yet his sculptures are little known. From 1946 onward, he made hundreds of rarely exhibited found-object assemblages, often painted or plastered over with diverse coatings of white. Across decades, Twombly thus developed a singular, strikingly consistent body of work, despite the shifting status of sculpture during his lifetime.
In this revelatory monograph, Kate Nesin first establishes, then evaluates the artist’s long engagement with the historical and contemporary limits of sculpture, both as medium and as word. While others have described Twombly’s three-dimensional works as timeless, transcendent, and poetic, Nesin complicates our sense of their so-called poetry, focusing on the prosaic, conspicuously material operations of these sculptural things,” and emphasizing the inherent difficulties as well as possibilities of the language used to characterize them. Through close readings of individual works and in-depth analyses of certain guiding concerns, such as surface, naming, gaps, and repetitions, she illuminates Twombly's remarkable sculptural practice.