Skip to main content
Cy Twombly Nini's Painting, 1971

Nini’s Painting

Artwork Factory


In this work, Cy Twombly’s “doodles” with chalk, crayon, and pencil almost look like writing. We even believe we can read individual letters and words from the lines—for example the names Cy and Nini. But the curved lines do not reveal any message.

Associated modules

In his adopted home of Rome, Cy met Plinio De Martiis in the 1960s. Plinio was a gallerist, and soon not only a good friend but also an important patron. In 1971 his wife Nini died suddenly. Cy then painted a series of five pictures, all dedicated to Nini.

As if grief had swallowed his words, Cy addresses Nini with this picture. The canvas becomes a means for an attempt at a final personal conversation.

Ponder this

What form do thoughts take before they become words? 


In this piece, Cy worked line by line. This composition and the curvaceous drawn lines create a connection to writing. One sometimes even believes to have discerned an actual word.

"I think space is for paintings, for looking at paintings."

Cy Twombly



When we begin to think about something, or an event occupies our thoughts very much, it is often not yet possible for us to put what we have thought into words.

What might these thoughts look like as images? 

Delve deeper

Artwork Factory

Artwork Cy Twombly, Untitled (New York City), 1968

The dryness of the dark gray picture looks like a slate, its size resembles that of a school blackboard. On it are irregular white lines and light-gray splashes of color. The lines in “Untitled (New York City)” run directly from the left to the right edge of the picture. Each single stroke registers that the artist has walked along the canvas, and how. We can see when he slows down, when the pressure of the chalk eases or intensifies, how short interruptions during the stride create kinks and loops, and how the lines approach each other, touch, and diverge again.

Delve deeper

Artist Factory

Artist Cy Twombly

was born in Lexington, Virginia, USA, in 1928 and died in Rome in 2011.

Get creative

Creative project Factory

Creative project Write without words

What happens when we try to write without using words?