Cy Twombly’s Blackboard Painting May Set New Auction Record

Cy Twombly, Untitled (1970)
Photo: Courtesy Christie's.

In November, one of Cy Twombly’s “blackboard” paintings will go up for sale at Christie’s and may set a new record for the artist at auction. Created in 1970, the painting, Untitled, made of white wax crayon lines against a gray background, executed in four rows of exuberant scrawl, is expected to bring between $35- and $55 million.

In 1966, Twombly began the blackboard series, named for their resemblance to a classroom chalkboard with white markings. Untitled came toward the end of the series when Twombly would fill entire canvases with a profusion of graphic coils using a strict process that was derived from handwriting techniques that children first learn in school.

The work is being offered by Twombly’s former assistant and the president of of the Cy Twombly foundation Nicola Del Roscio, as per Antiques & Fine Art Magazine. Del Roscio reportedly directly acquired the work from the artist. Christie’s would neither confirm nor deny that Del Roscio had consigned the work.

In the press release, the auction house states that it comes from a “prestigious European collection,” where it had remained since it was acquired directly from the artist.

The current record for a Twombly work is held by Poems to the sea (in 24 parts) (1959), which more than tripled its low estimate when it sold for $21,669,000 at Sotheby’s New York in November 2013. The record for a blackboard painting was set by Untitled (New York City), also from 1970, which sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2012 within its estimate for $17,442,500.

Twombly’s name has been frequently reappearing in the press for another work, Leaving Paphos Ringed with Waves, which has been at the heart of a battle between art dealer Larry Gagosian and billionaire collector Ron Perelman (see “Ron Perelman vs. the Whole “Ugly” Art Market“). Perelman claimed he was quoted a price of $8 million for the work, but when he expressed his desire to purchase it was told that it was sold to another buyer, only to have it come back on the market months later for $10.5 million. Perelman believed the price was unfair. Whether or not it was in that case, it seems Twombly’s market is on the up and up.

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