My Personal Experience With A Cy Twombly Artwork Part 1

My Personal Experience With A Cy Twombly Artwork Part 1

Further to my last post on aesthetics, I would like to give you an example of my experience with an artwork that revealed why it was a good investment by engaging with me on a level that went beyond pure aesthetics and changing my perception of the artist and artwork. The artwork in question is called “Three Studies From the Temeraire” by Cy Twombly and was purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales (my favourite place to visit) for a considerable six million dollars.


"Three Studies From the Temeraire" by Cy Twombly

I first saw this painting in a newspaper article just after is was purchased and my first impression was that it was a waste of good money that could have been spent on something much better. There was considerable controversy over the purchase of this painting which at the time I thought was completely justified. As far as artworks go, this painting by Cy Twombly is rather simple and very sparse which are not the ingredients for a good first impression. There seemed to be no middle ground with this work, you either liked it or hated it, and I hated it. Even though I began my relationship with this work in negative territory, every time I visited the Art Gallery of New South Wales I had to stop and contemplate the painting in an effort to understand it and relate to it on some level. I did some further research on the artwork and the artist and began to forge some appreciation, bit by bit.

After many months of deliberation and contemplation I suddenly realised that the relationship between myself and “Three Studies From the Temeraire” had matured and blossomed. At first I found it hard to believe but I had actually grown to really like this painting, but why?? TO BE CONTINUED……

Nick**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

6 Responses

  1. […] post by artforprofits and software by Elliott […]

  2. Well, I go with your first impression of not caring for it. I wonder if it had been purchased for $6 instead of $6 million, would you still be writing about it?

  3. I have a somewhat similar story to yours regarding my first experience with Cy Twombly. I was in a gallery on Madison Avenue in New York about five years ago when a woman working there insisted my father and I go down the street to the Gagosian Gallery and check out the Cy Twombley works on display there. Not only did she herself love the works, but told my dad and I that she was told that on more than one occasion, women had gone in and were so moved by the work that they stripped their clothes right in the gallery! My dad and I were thinking okay which way to Gagosian! We had to know and see what kind of artwork could possess a person to strip bare, let alone in the middle of an art gallery. And if we happened to see another woman do this, even better!

    When we arrived at Gagosian, we walked into the gallery space and encountered three large canvases with a bunch of what appeared to be primitive scribbles or doodles. We watched in astonishment as a man in a suit explained to a few people how because one scribble went all the way to the bottom of the canvas it symbolized this while because one stopped short it symbolized that. We were put off and flabbergasted at how a woman, let alone multiple women, could react in such a way to such artworks.

    However as time passed and as I studied more and more about modern and contemporary art, I have started to appreciate very extreme abstract works, such as those by Twombly. The problem for most who never studied art is that abstract works will always seem foreign to them. It is like opening up a book and starting in the middle. Without knowing what came before it and what came after it, the viewer will never be able to truly comprehend the artworks context within the history of art. And without that, it is difficult to truly appreciate the significance of a great artwork.

  4. Hi Ada,

    Thanks for the comment. What you say is very true, I just wish that more people would take the time to actually try and appreciate and understand modern art. There is so much exciting, amazing talent out there.

    Nicholas Forrest

  5. This man and his work are one of the
    biggest boondoggles in history. This
    man has no artistic talent. He is a
    product of the 50s rebellious beatnik
    generation, along with his cronies,
    Jackson Pollack, Jasper Johns, and
    Robert Rauschenberg. He is a country
    bumpkin with no real education or
    training (Black Mountain notwithstand-
    ing). Much is made over his military
    training as a cryptologist. He didn’t
    even complete his training…he was
    discharged after about nine months
    (probably a Section 8 discharge…
    look it up).

    If it looks like feces, smells like
    feces, and tastes like feces…then
    it probably is feces. It still has
    that quality even if it is placed on a
    canvass. If it is indistinguishable
    from a child’s art…then that’s what it

    However, when a museum spends that kind
    of money, then the art critics grovel
    in praising it. Any other approach
    would make the man who spent the money
    look like a fool. Gives new meaning
    to the old adage: “A fool and his money
    are soon parted.”

    I understand and can appreciate some
    modern art…including what passes
    as AE. However, when art becomes ‘art
    about art itself’, then the meaning of
    art has become prostitution of the
    selling of the artist’s name.

    To put Cy Twombly in the playing field
    with such artists as Pompeo Batoni,
    Rembrandt, Michelangelo, or William
    Beaugereau, is about as meaningful as
    putting a quadraplegic in a football

    Any ‘unannointed’ member of society can
    see the beauty and skill of art of the
    great masters. But if there is art that
    can’t be understood and appreciated by
    the ‘unwashed’ masses, then of what
    benefit is it to society…present and

    The value of Twombly’s art is like that
    of the value of tulips during the
    “Tulipmania” of the 1800s. It lacks
    intrinsic value based on skill and talent.
    In succeeding generations it will
    approach its intrinsic value as did
    the tulip bulbs in Holland.

    Pray for the wisdom to tell the obscenely
    wealthy avante garde of the art world
    the truth about what they have with
    Cy Twombly art…
    ‘refrigerator art’ that is too big to
    fit on the door.

    If your child could have as clever
    a publicist and apologists like the late
    Roland Barthes, they too can become
    the next Cy Twombly.

    Keep practicing those doodles and
    scribbles with your left hand. There
    are always gullible people that have
    too much money to spend on frivolous


  6. Dear Roger,

    Thanks for your post, I appreciate you voicing your opinion. One of the things that I like about the art world is that everyone has a different opinion which makes it all the more interesting to hear what people think.


    Nicholas Forrest

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