Untitled (1970), by Cy Twombly, from the Menil Collection, Houston, gift of the artist © Cy Twombly Foundation

One of the pleasures of large-scale paintings is the fact that, as a viewer, you can practically step right up and into the work, totally enveloped by it. So if you’ve ever wanted to lose yourself in Cy Twombly’s expressive hand gestures, now is your chance — New York’s Morgan Library & Museum is hosting a showing of his 1970 painting, Treatise on the Veil (Second Version), all 33 feet worth. On view today to January 25 and accompanied by its preparatory drawings, the work showcases the artist’s reflections on time and space. But behind all that abstraction lies a rather classical source: It’s inspired by a musical piece by composer Pierre Henry that recalls the myth of Orpheus and his attempt to rescue his wife from the underworld. He fails, and the moment of loss that Henry registers with the sound of fabric tearing is the one Twombly recreates.

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