Fit To Print

Cy Twombly, Untitled, 2002, acrylic on paper, 36×30 in., framed by the artist

I got to Josh Pazda Hiram Butler’s sales archive through an odd John Cage search, and I stayed for an unusual Cy Twombly find: a painting on newsprint—the Washington Post from April 5th, 2001, to be precise.

How did this? What is this? There are clear edges, plust some bleed; the acrylic shows no brushmarks, but does show the folds of the paper. It says framed by artist, but there’s also a bit of scorching right around the painted part, and the signature in the lower margin, like it was matted differently for a while?

Anyway, it turns out to be very similar to a work on, of all places, the Twombly Foundation’s own website, in the Prints section.

Untitled, 2002, monotype, 60 x 45 cm, image: Galerie Bastian via Cy Twombly Foundation

Described as a monotype, this work contains the same lozenge-shaped, leaf-like motif. It’s also on newsprint, and has borders very much like those kissed in place by the sun up top.

I think these are cardboard prints, where the image is carved into a sheet of cardboard with something rough, like a nail, and which are painted and pressed against a surface—in this case, straight up newspaper from the porch—to transfer the image.

Twombly made raw, scratchy monotypes right after getting back to New York in 1953, and in 1996, he revisited the cardboard engraving technique for an edition Twombly and Nicola del Roscio printed for the Whitney Museum. Whether it was a pump-priming exercise, a diversion, a warm-up, or something else, this rough, disposable, DIY printing medium seems to have struck a chord with Twombly. At least it worked well enough to let these things out of the studio, conservators bedamned.

“Printed by Cy Twombly; printed by Nicola del Roscia”? []