Entertainment & Arts

Tate gallery gifted Cy Twombly works worth £50m

Sir Nicholas Serota in front of "Untitled (Bacchus) 2006-2008 Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir Nicholas Serota called the donation "one of the most generous gifts ever"

The Tate has been gifted works, valued in the region of £50m, by the late American artist Cy Twombly, who died in 2011 at the age of 83.

The pieces include three large canvases Untitled (Bacchus) 2006-8 and five bronze sculptures.

The gallery held a major retrospective of the artist in 2008.

Tate director, Sir Nicholas Serota, called it "one of the most generous gifts ever to Tate by an artist or a foundation".

Analysis: Will Gompertz, Arts Editor

Cy Twombly was one of the most important western artists to emerge from the machismo of 1950s Abstract Expressionism. Along with fellow countrymen and colleagues - Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, - he was responsible for re-connecting American contemporary art with the poetic uncertainties and everyday simplicities of life.

The three large abstract paintings that form part of this gift are late works made between 2006 and 2008, which are themed around Bacchus - the Roman God of wine. They consist of huge, loosely painted, red circles that overlap and sprawl across the mighty canvasses. At first glance they may seem like nothing more than doodles, but given time their combined power and scale begins to affect the viewer's senses, in a way - the artist probably intended - that's comparable to drinking a glass of red wine.

It was Cy Twombly's wish that these works - which the Tate has nominally valued at £50 million - go to the London-based institution. It considers the gift to be as significant as Mark Rothko's 1969 gift of his Seagram Murals. It is a bold but justifiable claim.

"It ranks alongside Rothko's gift of the Seagram mural paintings in 1969," he continued. "Together with Twombly's cycle of paintings The Four Seasons 1993-5, acquired in 2002, this gives an enduring place in London to the work of one of the great painters of the second half of the 20th Century."

The large-scale paintings, inspired by the Roman God Bacchus and his association with wine and debauchery were painted with a brush affixed to the end of a pole.

The five sculptures are all bronze casts of found objects, such as the top of an olive barrel.

Nicola Del Roscio, president of the Cy Twombly Foundation said: "On behalf of the Foundation, it is my great pleasure to honour Cy's wishes with this gift."

In 2012, a major collection of modern art - which included works by David Hockney and Lucian Freud - was donated to the gallery.

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