04/25/2012 09:38 am ET Updated Apr 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Cy Twombly! (PHOTOS)

Happy Birthday to Cy Twombly, the lanky Virginia-born painter who became an expert amateur. He would turn 84 today, if he were still with us. Twombly passed away last year, but his complex legacy will continue through new exhibitions as well as through the work of his admirers. (We're looking at you, Rindy Sam!)

There is a complexity to Twombly's surfaces -- rich with scratches, erasures and drips -- that is impossible to decipher. Just as a child is in awe at the glory of a blender, we become transfixed by mysterious forces at work. In his only written statement on his art, Twombly wrote: "It does not illustrate. It is the sensation of its own realization." The artist had a reputation for being removed from current events, yet his work invokes poetry and myth with ease. From Sappho to John Keats, Twombly floated weightlessly from academia to myth to crude drawings of buttocks. His works are more than either ethereal or dirty -- they are both, really.

Happy birthday, Cy. You truly are a "Cyclone" of the art world.

Check out this selection of Twombly's photography taken throughout his life. Images courtesy of Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels.

Cy Twombly