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Eykyn Maclean launches new London gallery with Cy Twombly: Works from the Sonnabend Collection
Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1969. Gouache and wax crayon on paper, 76.2 x 100.97 cm. Sonnabend Collection, New York© Cy Twombly Foundation.

LONDON.- Eykyn Maclean specialises in museum calibre work by key Impressionist and 20th Century European and American artists. Christopher Eykyn and Nicholas Maclean established Eykyn Maclean in 2006 combining their 29 years of experience at Christie's where they were co-heads of the Impressionist and Modern Art departments. The launch of their new London gallery space follows on from the successful inauguration of their New York space in 2010. Previous exhibitions in New York include: Inside Giacometti’s Studio – An Intimate Portrait (2010) and Matisse and the Model (2011).

Cy Twombly: Works from the Sonnabend Collection demonstrates the gallery’s continuing commitment to a programme of international scholarly loan exhibitions in addition to commercial exhibitions. “As private dealers the majority of our work is conducted discretely. However, our galleries in New York and London enable us to bring together important works, such as these, for public exhibition,” says Nicholas Maclean.

The exhibition
Marking the launch of Eykyn Maclean London, Cy Twombly: Works from the Sonnabend Collection brings together all eleven works by the artist from the collection of legendary gallerist and collector Ileana Sonnabend. The show is a rare opportunity to view works from several important stages in the artist’s life, including many which have never before been publically exhibited. The connection between Twombly and Sonnabend came through mutual friendships with Robert Rauschenberg.

"It is an honour to show work by one of the twentieth-century's most original artists as seen through the discerning eye of one of the century's most forward-thinking dealers and collectors,” says Kristy Bryce gallery Director and the show’s curator, “in effect the curator of this show is Sonnabend herself.”

Twombly (1928 –2011) drew upon ideas expressed in poetry, literature and classical mythology. Full of surface complexity and whirlwinds of tiny detail, his works convey an intense physicality and a real sense of the artist at work.

Untitled (New York City), (1956) is the earliest work in the exhibition. Vigorous gestures are built up layer upon layer, the surface revealing the strata of scrawls partially buried beneath each successive mark, resulting in a painting that is at once archaeology and abstraction.

Another five works from 1959 to 1962 continue to blur the line between painting and writing, with symbols, scribbles, and words occupying the same energised field. With references to cultural figures such as Vivaldi, mythological tales like the Triumph of Galatea, and geographical names such as Roma and Sperlonga, Twombly's work from this period is rich with narrative evocations.

A key work in the show is Untitled (1969), a gouache and wax crayon on paper. Reminiscent of a blackboard, it is part of a series of works from the late 1960’s that comprise Twombly’s signature ‘grey paintings’.

The two works in the show from the 1970s - Untitled (1975) and Napoli (1975) - signal a new direction in his work, with the use of large-scale gestures in bold, vibrant colours, that he would go on to explore throughout the rest of his working life.

A fully-illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition with essays by Annie Cohen-Solal, author of the recent biography of dealer Leo Castelli, and James Lawrence, a critic and historian of post-war and contemporary art and frequent contributor to Burlington Magazine.

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