The Fall of Hyperion by Cy Twombly

La caduta di Iperione o Secondo viaggio in Italia (1962) by Cy TwomblyLa Galleria Nazionale

This piece of work was exhibited in 1964 at the 32nd Venice Biennale with the title "The Fall of Hyperion," but Cy Twombly dubbed it "Second Voyage to Italy," which he considered to be its proper name. Twombly's first encounter with Europe came in 1952, when he visited France, Spain, Morocco, and Italy.In 1957 the artist made a second voyage to Italy, and decided to live in Rome permanently.

The mythological theme of the work is explained as follows: Hyperion—whose name means "he who goes above"—was one of the 12 Titan children of Uranus and Gaia. A Titan associated with watchfulness and observation, he was the father of Helios, Eos, and Selene: gods of the Sun, the Dawn, and the Moon respectively.

Twombly, like the hero of Friedrich Hölderin's novel, "Hyperion," was enchanted by the beauty and harmony that poured out of Greek culture. He rediscovered a modern vision of the ancient world, reworking it into a new form of visual expression, adding color and enlarging the canvases, leaving indelible marks on intentionally white spaces.

At the start of the 1960s, Twombly began using increasingly large canvases, almost as big as cinema screens, which were "the ideal shields" for hurling splashes, marks, threads, and lumps onto the white background.

The artist translates the very action of abstract American expressionism into an "alphabet, both syllabic and ideographic" to reach, through the earlier dense lines of the 1950s, a "Mesopotamian space."

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