the broad

Nini's Painting [Rome]

Cy Twombly
oil based house paint, wax crayon, and lead pencil on canvas
102 3/4 x 118 1/4 in. (260.99 x 300.36 cm)

Cy Twombly, Nini’s Painting [Rome], 1971


Cy Twombly is a difficult artist for a lot of people. Some people think it looks overly simple, the quintessential "my kid could do that" art. And some people think that they're missing some sort of joke, that its overly difficult.


The irony about Twombly is that he's a little bit of both. When you look at a work by Cy Twombly, he is really trying to tap into energies, of things coming alive inside of us. Creative energies as they're building and escalating inside of the creative act itself.


"Nini's Painting" from 1971 is very much a quintessential Twombly, but also refers to things going on in Twombly's life. It’s my understanding that Twombly had seen an exhibition by Jackson Pollock but also, he was encountering things going on in the New York art world at the time, specifically some of the repetitive movements going on in minimalism.


So, when you look at "Nini's Painting," you almost want it to be handwriting. But it never quite becomes handwriting. It's got too much energy for that. It's got too many layers. It's washy like a chalkboard.


Those layers are built through paint and pigment. Some of it is cut with a palette knife. Sometimes he digs into the surface with the brush. And all of that is kind of destabilizing that repetitive movement, that sort of impulse that you want this to mean something.