Mar 22, 2017

Christie’s to Offer Cy Twombly Masterpiece Unseen in Public for Almost 30 Years

Rare Cy Twombly Masterpiece Leda and the Swan appears for the first time at auction in New York on May 17th
Share the post
A Cy Twombly masterpiece that hasn’t been seen publicly in nearly 30 years is set to go up for sale at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York on May 17th.

Leda and the Swan, painted in 1962 has until now been held by just two private owners and is estimated to sell for between $35-55million. This figure is still short of the auction record for Twombly’s work which stands at $70million for his 1968 painting ‘Untitled (New York City).'

Leda and the Swan’s sister painting of the same title is one of the most popular works on view within the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Koji Inoue, International Director, Post-War and Contemporary Art, remarked: “Hidden from public view for over 25 years, we are thrilled to present one of Cy Twombly’s absolute masterpieces in Leda and the Swan, 1962. This is a remarkable painting that has been pursued by collectors for decades. Impregnated with paint passionately and poetically applied with the hand, brush and stick, Leda and the Swan, is one of the most vital canvases created during this transformative period in the artist’s career. Given its tremendous importance within the context of both Twombly’s oeuvre, and the canon of Post-War art, we are honored to have the opportunity to offer this work to the market after nearly thirty clandestine years. This is also a particularly exciting time for the Twombly market, given its overlap with the Centre Pompidou’s groundbreaking retrospective of the artist’s expansive career.”

Leda and the Swan is part of a cycle of works that resulted from the explosive and highly physical release of passion, seduction and visceral energy that had defined Twombly’s Ferragosto paintings, which were executed throughout the hot summer months of 1961. Demonstrating this new, distinctly Baroque mix of eroticism and violence, Leda and the Swan exemplifies the “blood and foam” style that dominated the artist’s work until 1966. A magnum opus of the artist’s oeuvre, Leda and the Swan fully articulates Twombly’s desire to defeat tradition even as he engaged with it. Immersing himself in ancient Greek and Roman literature, Twombly demonstrates the breadth of the artist’s cultural immersion in his Mediterranean surroundings.