Ernst Wilhelm Nay. Works on paper

26 May – 7 July 2012

“It is in the drawings and watercolours of Ernst Wilhelm Nay that we get the strongest and most direct sense of the intuitive basis of his art.”

(John Paul Stonard)

Michael Werner Kunsthandel, Cologne will be presenting 75 works by Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902-1968) as from 26 May 2012. The exhibition shows work produced after 1951, the year the artist moved to Cologne, and includes drawings in coloured pencil, felt-tip pen, graphite and ballpoint-pen as well as watercolours and works produced with brush and ink.

Nay began studying under Carl Hofer at the Berlin School of Fine Art in 1924 and finished as a star pupil in 1928. As from 1933, following a scholarship to work in the Villa Massimo in Rome (1931-1932) and his first artistic and commercial successes, Nay fell foul of Nazi hostility. The “Fisher Drawings” date from the time he spent during the mid 1930’s at the Baltic Sea. Following the confiscation of his work from public museums in 1937, Nay travelled to Norway and found inspiration for a new creative phase on the Lofoten Islands. His meeting with Wassily Kandinsky in Paris at the beginning of the 1940’s was to have a significant influence both on his practical work and his theoretical outlook. The figurative character of his earlier work was gradually superceded towards the end of the 1940’s.

Nay used his works on paper as sketches for his paintings, but also considered them as works in their own right, albeit in a different medium. The spontaneity and freedom of his drawings and his intuitive use of colour testify to his incredible creative vitality. The artist’s later works, which thrive on an innovative dynamic tension between figurative and abstract elements, played a key role in German post-war art.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue featuring a text by John Paul Stonard