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Untitled (New York City)

Artwork Factory


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.

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Cy Twombly studied in the urban jungle of New York. Although well connected in the art scene, his initial success as a young artist started to wane. After some soul-searching he embarked on a new beginning. He consciously tried to forget what he learned at New York University and to let his hands work independently of his mind, thus bringing the element of
chance into art. Scrawls, illegible handwriting, shaky patterns and wobbly lines like these result in compositions full of tension.


Does something of the artist’s body remain in his work? 

look closely

How much expression does a line have? 

Ponder this

Artwork Factory

Artwork Cy Twombly, Nini’s Painting, 1971

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.

"So each line is the actual experience of its own history. It does not illustrate—it is the sensation of its own realization."

Cy Twombly


Cy strode the length of the canvas again and again from left to right, brushing over the entire surface of the painting and leaving a trace.

look closely

Can we read interruptions, speed and regularity of movement in the lines? Twitching, stumbling, body tension?

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?