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American abstract expressionist Cy Twombly dies aged 83

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US artist Cy Twombly who was known for his abstract works using oil paint, pencil and crayon has died in Rome.

Edwin Parker Twombly Jr was born in Virginia, USA in 1928. He studied in New York when abstract expressionism was at its height. This is where he met Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns and became part of group of emerging young American artists.

In 1957, he moved from America to Rome. Here Twombly turned to the traditional sources of Western art: Greek and Roman antiquity and the Renaissance which surrounded him in the city.

During this time he began exploring the techniques of free association and spontaneity developed by the Surrealists by practising drawing in the dark. 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. Cy Twombly once said the process felt more like "having an experience than making a picture".

Twombly's work has been dismissed as second rate and described by one detractor, Bernard Levin, simply as 'silly scribblings'. Yet Twombly has a major international reputation, with his paintings changing hands for huge sums.

He continued to work through out his life and in 2010 was the first artist since the 1950’s to paint to a ceiling in the Louvre.

The Dulwich Picture gallery is currently running an exhibition featuring Twombly and Poussin which examines how, although separated by three centuries, these two artists nonetheless engaged with the same sources and will explore the overlapping subjects that the two artists have shared.