Twombly is a key member of the generation of American artists immediately following the Abstract Expressionists. Between 1967 and 1971 he produced a series of works on grey ground. This monumental painting is from that series and features terse, colourless scribbles that resemble chalk on a blackboard and form no actual words. Twombly made this work using an unusual technique: he sat on the shoulders of a friend who swayed back and forth along the canvas to allow the artist to create his flowing, continuous lines. Because of their consistently large horizontal format, the slate-grey ground primed with oil paint and the rows of spiralling white chalk lines running in the direction of writing, reminiscent of classroom blackboards, they have been called blackboard paintings. The paintings in this series are usually named Untitled + the year they were made. They are highly traded on the art market, fetching prices in the seven-figure range (US dollars) at auction. Twombly painted the picture directly after returning to New York from an extended stay in Rome. He varied the theme in other paintings in the same year.
Cy Twombly (born: Edwin Parker Twombly Jr.; * 25 April 1928 in Lexington, Virginia; † 5 July 2011 in Rome, Italy) was an American painter, sculptor and calligrapher whose nickname Cy came from his father. Twombly began his art studies in Boston and had an early fascination with Expressionism, Dadaism and Surrealism. Twombly then continued his studies in New York, where he encountered the art of abstract expressionists Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. Twombly travelled through Europe and North Africa with Robert Rauschenberg, which was central to Twombly's artistic development. Twombly's art blurs the boundaries between painting, drawing, sculpture and the written word. His works are a mixture of historical and personal references, private memories and mythological stories. Twombly's art combines abstract expressionism with conceptually oriented art.