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07 Jul 2011

Famed American painter Cy Twombly, who first found the limelight with his calligraphic paintings in the late 1950s, has died in Rome aged 83.

The US artist was widely known for abstract works that used oil paint, pencil and crayon to create repetitive lines and scribbles on canvas.

Mr Twombly also painted a ceiling in the Louvre museum in Paris in 2010.

A spokeswoman for the Gagosian Gallery confirmed Mr Twombly, who had cancer for several years, died on Tuesday.

Owner Larry Gagosian paid tribute to "a talent of such amazing scope and intensity".

"The art world has lost a true genius and a completely original talent and, for those fortunate enough to have known him, a great human being," he said in a statement.

Born in the US state of Virginia in 1928, Mr Twombly studied in New York when abstract expressionism was at its height.

He met Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns in the city, they became friends and part of group of emerging young American artists.

In 1954, Mr Twombly was conscripted into the US army where he trained as a cartographer.

During this time he began exploring the techniques of free association and spontaneity developed by the Surrealists by practising drawing in the dark.

In 1957, he moved from America to the Italian capital, Rome, where his work began to reflect his new environment and intellectual passions.

The light and landscape of the Mediterranean, poetry, history and mythology all became frequent motifs of his art.

He then started to add words and verse into his paintings with graffiti-like scribbles which became a hallmark of his work, as did the scratches, over-painting, drips and rubbings-out.

He once said the process felt more like "having an experience than making a picture".

Last year, Mr Twombly became the first artist since Georges Braque in the 1950s to paint a ceiling in the Louvre.

Twombly's work has been purchased for millions at auction, with a 1971 painting fetching $5.5m (£3.4m).

His sensuous paintings, which merge the epic with the intimate and modernity with classicism, are displayed in museums across the world.


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