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Sale: 393 / Post War/Contemporary Art, June 09. 2012 in Munich Lot 202

Ernst Wilhelm Nay - Imagination in Gelb

Lot description
Imagination in Gelb. 1951.
Oil on canvas.
Scheibler 568. Signed and dated lower left. Once more signed and dated on verso of stretcher as well as titled. 80 x 100 cm (31,4 x 39,3 in).
Expressive work from the period of the "Fugale Bilder", which was very relevant for Nay as it marked the transformation from abstraction to figuration.

PROVENANCE: Private collection, Kassel (since 1955, acquired directly from artist).

EXHIBITION: "Deutscher Künstlerbund 1950. 1st exhibition Berlin 1951", Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Berlin, 1 August - 1 October, 1951, cat. no. 158.
Overbeck Gesellschaft, Lübeck 1953.
Kunstverein in Bremen, Bremer Kunsthalle, Bremen 1953.
Frankfurter Kunstverein, Steinernes Haus, Frankfurt am Main 1953.
"125 Jahre Kasseler Kunstverein. Kunst von 1835 bis 1960 aus Kasseler Privatbesitz", Städtisches Kunsthaus, Kassel, 2 April - 4 May, 1960, cat. no. 108 (with illu.).
"Aufbruch 51 - Versuch einer Rekonstruktion", Märkisches Museum der Stadt Witten, Witten, 18 June - 27 August, 1989, cat. no. 158.

Ernst Wilhelm Nay studied under Karl Hofer at the Berlin Art Academy from 1925 until 1928. His first sources of inspiration resulted from his preoccupation with Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Henri Matisse as well as Caspar David Friedrich and Nicolas Poussin. Nay's still lives, portraits and landscapes were widely acclaimed. In 1931 Nay received a nine-months' study bursary to the Villa Massimo in Rome, where he began to paint in the abstract Surrealist manner. On the recommendation of the Lubeck museum director, C.G. Heise, Nay was given a work grant financed by Edvard Munch, which enabled Nay to spend time in Norway and on the Lofoten Islands in 1937. The "Fischer- und Lofotenbilder" represented a first pinnacle of achievement. That same year, however, two of his works were shown in the notorious exhibition of "Degenerate Art" and Nay was forbidden to exhibit any longer. Conscripted into the German armed forces in 1940, Nay went with the infantry to France, where a French sculptor placed his studio at Nay's disposal. In the "Hekatebildern" (1945-48), featuring motifs from myth, legend and poetry, Nay worked through his war and postwar experiences.

"Imagination in Gelb" is an impressive example of the "Fugale Bilder", which Ernst Wilhelm Nay developed in 1949-51. In a fiery palette and entwined forms a new beginning in Nay’s painting was marked. The color fields seem more defined and more separated from one another. Music has become the most important source of inspiration for Nay‘s compositions, which our painting shows in the dynamic structure and the motion: Nay combines light and heavy elements, contrasts a lucent yellow with a deep black, confronts flowing ornaments with sharp-pointed geometric forms and this way composes an expressive and rhythmic sound carpet that appeals to the observers synaesthetic sensation.

In 1950 the Kestner Gesellschaft Hanover mounted a first retrospective of Nay's work. The following year the artist moved to Cologne, where, with the "Rhythmischen Bildern" he took the final step towards entirely non-representational painting. In them he began to use color purely as figurative values. From 1955 Nay's painted "Scheibenbilder", in which round color surfaces organize subtle modulations of space and color. These are developed further in 1963/64 in what are known as the "Augenbilder". A first one-man-show in America at the Kleeman Galleries, New York, in 1955, participation in the 1956 Venice Biennale and the Kassel documenta (1955, 1959 and 1964) are milestones marking Nay's breakthrough on the international art scene. Ernst Wilhelm Nay was awarded important prizes and is represented by work in nearly all major exhibitions of German art in Germany and abroad. [KH].

Ernst Wilhelm Nay
Imagination in Gelb, 1951.
Oil on canvas
€ 90,000 / $ 101,700
€ 158,600 / $ 179.217

(incl. 22% surcharge)

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