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Cover for Cy Twombly's Things

Cy Twombly's Things

Kate Nesin


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Cy Twombly (1928–2011) is widely acknowledged as one of the postwar period’s most influential American artists, yet his sculptures are little known. From 1946 onward, he made hundreds of rarely exhibited found-object assemblages, often painted or plastered over with diverse coatings of white. Across decades, Twombly thus developed a singular, strikingly consistent body of work, despite the shifting status of sculpture during his lifetime.
In this revelatory monograph, Kate Nesin first establishes, then evaluates the artist’s long engagement with the historical and contemporary limits of sculpture, both as medium and as word. While others have described Twombly’s three-dimensional works as timeless, transcendent, and poetic, Nesin complicates our sense of their so-called poetry, focusing on the prosaic, conspicuously material operations of these sculptural “things,” and emphasizing the inherent difficulties as well as possibilities of the language used to characterize them. Through close readings of individual works and in-depth analyses of certain guiding concerns, such as surface, naming, gaps, and repetitions, she illuminates Twombly's remarkable sculptural practice. 

Praise For Cy Twombly's Things

“With this deeper understanding of Twombly’s sculptures and casts, his place in the pantheon of “artists’ artists” grows more secure.”—Publishers Weekly
— Publishers Weekly

"Nesin has valuably opened up this complex area of investigation and her publication reveals a detailed level of research alongside attractively reproduced colour illustrations. To consider the full title of the book, the rubric of ‘things’, despite its multiplicity and vagueness, holds together a range of specificities that prompts interpretations and, ultimately, offers a useful label for Twombly’s sculptures.”—Matthew Cheale, Burlington June 2017
— Matthew Cheale

Yale University Press, 9780300190113, 248pp.

Publication Date: June 3, 2014

About the Author

Kate Nesin is associate curator of contemporary art at the Art Institute of Chicago.