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The First Part of the Return from Parnassus

Large abstract painting of canvas sparsely filled with multicolored scribbles and shapes.
© Cy Twombly Foundation

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  • Large abstract painting of canvas sparsely filled with multicolored scribbles and shapes.




Cy Twombly
American, 1928–2011

About this artwork

Cy Twombly’s famously inimitable art is tensely balanced between expressively abstract and suggestively pictorial impulses. His work originated under the auspices of Abstract Expressionism in the late 1940s and early 1950s and advanced uniquely along lines afforded by its freedoms. Twombly’s entire enterprise is characterized by unruly marks—stammering, energetic, and raw—that merge drawing, painting, writing, and symbolic glyphs. Scrawled, overwritten, erased, or willfully misspelled, words cite people, places, events, and stories nominally derived from Greco-Roman culture and history, especially literature, poetry, and myth.


Currently Off View


Contemporary Art


Cy Twombly


The First Part of the Return from Parnassus


United States (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil paint, lead pencil, wax crayon, colored pencil on canvas


240.7 × 300.7 cm (94 3/4 × 118 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Through prior gift of Mary and Leigh Block; Marian and Samuel Klasstorner and Major Acquistions Endowment Income funds; Wirt D. Walker Trust; Estate of Walter Aitken; Director's Fund; Helen A. Regenstein Endowment; Laura T. Magnuson Acquisition Fund

Reference Number



© Cy Twombly Foundation

Extended information about this artwork

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