American artist Cy Twombly, whose scribbly yet detailed art made him one of the most important artists of the 20th century, is dead at 83.
Twombly died in Rome Tuesday (July 5). The cause is not immediately known, according to the New York Times, but Twombly had been battling cancer.
The artist was a contemporary of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns and relocated to southern Italy in the late 1950s, just as the New York art scene was gaining critical attention. There he cultivated his singular style, which one-time curator Kirk Varnedoe once described as “discomfiting to many critics and truculently difficult not just for a broad public, but for sophisticated initiates of postwar art as well.”
Still, Twombly had many fans within the art world and was considered influential by his peers — his free, graffiti-like stylings can be seen in the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. He avoided publicity and didn’t like critics, instead preferring the privacy of his own company.
Tombly himself once described creating his work as, “more like I’m having an experience than making a picture.”