Larry Gagosian, titan of contemporary art dealing, opens his new gallery in Mayfair this month – joining a number of spaces that have emerged on and around Berkeley Square in the past year, including Phillips auction house. Tucked between Davies Street and Bond Street, the sleek white Caruso St John-designed monolith in Grosvenor Hill is the third of Gagosian’s galleries in London and 15th worldwide, and is launching with an exhibition of paintings by the late American artist Cy Twombly, from Saturday October 10 to Saturday December 12.
Although described as “truculently difficult” by one critic, Twombly’s work is said to have inspired Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat (among many other gesturally vigorous painters) and, since he died in 2011, has been fêted in six major international shows and formed one of the key exhibitions at this year’s Venice Biennale.
This exhibition includes sculptures, works on paper, the artist’s books and two previously unseen paintings, both from the artist’s Bacchus series (example first picture) – scrambles of vinous scribbles in oil, painted in 2006. Twombly’s squiggles on fields of grey or tan are steeped in classical mythology and poetry, with titles such as The Coronation of Sesostris or Virgil. Bacchusis a recurring theme in his work and the paintings were created using bright red to represent his “ecstasy and insanity”. Although there are other pictures on the same theme in London’s Tate Modern, these two never left the artist’s studio.
Around the corner, Gagosian’s Davies Street gallery brings together more than 20 of Twombly’s photographs (this time for sale, price on request) of natural subjects – tulips, strawberries (second picture), cabbages, lemons – taken in Rome and Gaeta, where he lived from 1985. Beginning in the early 1990s, Twombly used specialised copiers to enlarge his Polaroid images on matte paper, resulting in subtle distortions that augment the timeless qualities of his paintings and sculptures and their historical and literary allusions.