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Cy Twombly

IT SHOULD NOT surprise us that the first major monographic study of the work of Cy Twombly would come to us from France: After all, Twombly’s reputation was established earlier and more exuberantly in Europe than in the United States (for example, Pierre Restany wrote on the artist as early as 1961). We will never know whether the reason for the fine American disregard was Twombly’s decision to leave the US for the shores of Italy in 1957 or whether it was his provocative synthesis of poetic learning and painterly desublimation that irritated an American audience habituated by the early ’60s to think of the New York School in terms of triumphs and the sublime.

Steps toward a serious yet belated recognition of the artist’s centrality in American painting of the 1960s (which would finally place him on par with his peers, his former companions and close friends Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper

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