11 May – 20 July 2019


“I had a very intense week, just the way I like it […]. I think my new watercolours are on a par with my paintings and drawings and can no longer be seen merely as an attractive side-line.” (E. W. Nay 13.8.1937)

The Michael Werner Kunsthandel is delighted to present a selection of Ernst Wilhelm Nay’s works on paper in close co-operation with the Ernst Wilhelm Nay Stiftung. The show consists of about 50 works from different creative phases in the artist’s life, and includes drawings in pencil, ink and watercolour.

The exhibition harks back to Nay’s early work such as the “Dunes and Fishermen series” which originated when the artist stayed on several occasions at the Baltic coast during the 1930s, and were influenced by figurative naturalism. At the beginning of the 1940s, having completed his art studies under Carl Hofer at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin, Nay met Wassily Kandinsky while on a visit to Paris. This meeting was to have a determining influence on Nay’s artistic development, leading to further abstraction, which became a hallmark of his characteristic watercolours.

Nay did not consider his works on paper as mere preparatory sketches for his oil paintings, but rather as a distinct art form. As a result, the development of his paper oeuvre ran parallel to his paintings on canvas.

Following successful exhibitions in our London and New York galleries, we have also organised shows of Nay’s later works and his works on paper, notably in Cologne and Märkisch Wilmersdorf. The Kunstmuseum Bonn also had an exhibition in 2002 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Nay’s birth, and in 2009, the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt dedicated a show to his pictures from the 1960s.

Ernst Wilhelm Nay (*1902 in Berlin) is widely recognized as one of the most important exponents of 20th century German Art. In 1951, he moved to Cologne, where he lived and worked until his death in 1968.