Sale: 545 / Evening Sale, Dec. 08. 2023 in Munich Lot 18

Ernst Wilhelm Nay
Azuro, 1952.
Oil on canvas
€ 200,000 - 300,000

$ 210,000 - 315,000

Azuro. 1952.
Oil on canvas.
Signed and dated in lower left. Signed, dated and titled on the reverse. 100 x 125 cm (39.3 x 49.2 in).

• In "Azuro", the dominant blue sets the expressive rhythm of this highly dynamic composition.
• The work bears the positive spirit of the post-war era in Cologne that also found expression in the New Music of Boulez, Nono or Stockhausen.
• The year the work was made, Nay's purely abstract creative period commenced with the 'Rhythmic Pictures'.
• For the first time on public display in the exhibition of the 'Deutsche Künstlerbund' in the year of its creation.
• Family-owned for 44 years

PROVENANCE: Elly Nay, Berlin.
Galerie Günther Franke, Munich (1957, with the label on the reverse).
Private collection, Stein near Nuremberg.
Private collection Southern Germany.

EXHIBITION: Deutsche Malerei und Plastik der Gegenwart, Deutscher Künstlerbund, 2nd exhibition, Staatenhaus der Messe, Cologne, June 7 - August 7, 1952, cat. no. 171 (with the exhibition label on the reverse).
116. Frühjahrsausstellung, Kunstverein Hanover, 1954, cat. no. 176.

LITERATURE: Aurel Scheibler/Siegfried Gohr, Ernst Wilhelm Nay. Catalogue raisonné of oil paintings, vol. II: 1952-1968, Cologne 1990, no. 616 (fig.).
Karl & Faber, Munich, 151st auction, November 29/30, 1979, lot 1865 (fig., plate 7).

"I see color as a pictorial form. So color is form. Color has a creative value. Not only do I prioritize color over all other means of creation, my entire painterly activities are determined by color. […] You can only see color with all of your senses. These sensations come from a deeply human need that bears the creative value of color."

Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Die Gestaltfarbe, 1952, in: Das Kunstwerk, vol. 6, issue 2, p. 4.

Called up: December 8, 2023 - ca. 17.34 h +/- 20 min.

In the winter of 1951, Ernst Wilhelm Nay left his studio in Hofheim im Taunus and moved to nearby Cologne. In the metropolis on the Rhine, the artist found a modest attic apartment in the Braunsfeld district where he set up his studio. In contrast to the tranquil rural Hofheim, a whole new and optimistic attitude towards life prevailed in the densely populated area, although Cologne, like so many German cities, was still clearly marked by war damage. A dynamic atmosphere of a new beginning was palpable and would soon catch the artist and inspire him to a new work group, the so-called "Rhythmic Pictures" (1952-1953). Works from this group testify to Nay's transition to purely abstract painting. The color is clearly liberated from any representational reference and covers the canvas in rhythmically dissolved surfaces entirely free from hard contours and geometric forms. The titles of the works in this group also reflect the pronounced dominance of color, or as Werner Haftmann once paraphrased it: "The special evocative quality of a color was conjured up by a suggestive word." (Werner Haftmann, E. W. Nay, Cologne 1960, p. 148) They bear titles such as "Silbermelodie” (Silver Melody) "Orange merkurisch” (Orange Mercurial) or "In schwarzen Takten” (In Black Beats) and incidentally reveal echoes of the world of music. It was in Cologne that Ernst Wilhelm Nay first came into contact with electronic music, and it was during this creative phase that he is was also strongly influenced by the progressive music of artists such as Boulez, Nono, or Stockhausen.

The work "Azuro", on the other hand, does not seem to need any reinforcing adjective or metaphor and stands entirely on its own. A strong azure blue, often used as a synonym for the blue of the sky, dominates the composition. However, the strong contrast of dark red to orange tones and bright lemon yellow means that the blue does not gain the upper hand, but is surrounded by white accents and green nuances, blending into the dense mesh of colors. These color chords are accompanied, as is so typical of works of this period, by black line structures. They do not limit or border the color, but rather set the pace. They structure the picture, allow the eye to jump between the deep black and the radiant glow of the colors, and in harmony with the color fields create a kind of movement that can be transferred to the body. "Azuro" seems to perfectly reflect the spirit of post-war Cologne and the new attitude towards life after the deprivations of war. It bears the rhythm of the period it was created and is emblematic of the increasing spread and recognition that abstract art saw in Germany. The work was first exhibited at the 2nd exhibition of the Deutscher Künstlerbund in Cologne in 1952, the year it was made. Even though the new art movement had already started to develop during the war and "appeared to some as a flashing sign of freedom in the time of total oppression" (Ingo F. Walther (ed.), Karl Ruhrberg, Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vol. I, Cologne 2005, p.234). In the post-war period, however, abstract art fully unleashed its powers in Germany and Ernst Wilhelm Nay - as "Azuro" from 1952 impressively demonstrates – undoubtedly was one of its most important representatives. [AR]

Buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation for Ernst Wilhelm Nay "Azuro"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation, artist‘s resale right compensation is due.

Differential taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 32 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 27 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 22 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 27 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 21% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 15% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The statutory VAT of currently 19 % is levied to the sum of hammer price and premium. As an exception, the reduced VAT of 7 % is added for printed books.

We kindly ask you to notify us before invoicing if you wish to be subject to regular taxation.

Calculation of artist‘s resale right compensation:
For works by living artists, or by artists who died less than 70 years ago, a artist‘s resale right compensation is levied in accordance with Section 26 UrhG:
4 % of hammer price from 400.00 euros up to 50,000 euros,
another 3 % of the hammer price from 50,000.01 to 200,000 euros,
another 1 % for the part of the sales proceeds from 200,000.01 to 350,000 euros,
another 0.5 % for the part of the sale proceeds from 350,000.01 to 500,000 euros and
another 0.25 % of the hammer price over 500,000 euros.
The maximum total of the resale right fee is EUR 12,500.

The artist‘s resale right compensation is VAT-exempt.