Copper in the Arts

July 2012

Cy Twombly's Final Planned Bronze Installation Goes on View at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Victory Victory, conceived 1987; cast 2005. Patinated bronze.

Photograph courtesy of the Twombly Foundation
A suite of six bronze sculptures, the last installation of this type planned by the late artist Cy Twombly (1928-2011), is now on view in the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art through 2013.

With works dating from 1979 to 2011, Twombly selected these pieces for display in the building's atrium in close collaboration with Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art, before the artist's death last July. All works are on loan to the Museum from the Cy Twombly Foundation.

"These eloquent and imposing works are a meditation on the relationship between classical history and modern art, reflecting the artist's deep affection for antiquity," said Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "This engagement with the past not only sets him apart from other artists of his generation, but is also a key to understanding his unique and enduring artistic voice. Twombly specifically selected the sculptures to resonate with his epic painting series in ten parts, Fifty Days at Iliam (1978), which has been on display in the Museum's main building since 1989 and is one of the Museum's masterpieces of modern and contemporary art.

"Cy was very precise in his choices for the display of these works, including their sequence and location," says Carlos Basualdo, the Keith and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art, who met with the artist numerous times to plan the installation. "It gives the Museum's audiences the unique opportunity to admire two complementary aspects of Twombly's extraordinary work-his paintings and his sculptures." While well known as a painter, Twombly was an accomplished and extraordinarily influential sculptor. The white-washed bronze sculptures presented in the exhibition have surfaces that are richly inflected by the casting process. They also vary in size and imagery, each including motifs found in Fifty Days at Illiam (Galleries 184 and 185, Main Building). With the Trojan War as their subject, both the paintings and the bronze sculptures allude to ancient combats: to chariots, sitting still or ferociously charging; to the rising sun before the conflict begins; and to the sunset, which falls equally on the victorious and the defeated.


Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Philadelphia, PA, (215) 763-8100

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