Ernst Wilhelm Nay - Untitled - image-1

Lot 281 D

Ernst Wilhelm Nay - Untitled

Auction 1110 - overview Cologne
01.06.2018, 17:00 - Modern Art
Estimate: 30.000 € - 35.000 €
Result: 44.640 € (incl. premium)

Ernst Wilhelm Nay


Watercolour on grained watercolour card 42 x 60.7 cm Framed under glass. Signed and dated 'Nay 54' in pencil lower left. - Vibrant colours, with the typical signs of aging for the watercolour papers used by Nay at that time. The lower left corner with tiny paper loss.

This watercolour occupies an important place in Ernst Wilhelm Nay's oeuvre. He is able to convey vitality, independence and spontaneity to an extent that is rare in this technique. In the words of Jean Cassou, with the watercolour “the artist returned back to his very first efforts towards the purely elemental.” (Jean Cassou, Nay-Aquarelle, Cologne 1969, p. 12).
Nay's musical abstractions and improvisations of the 1950s eliminate almost every trace of representationalism, and they unquestionably represent a highlight in his rich body of work. Indeed, falling directly in the period of his transition to the phase of the disc paintings, which began in 1955, our boldly colourful composition from 1954 marks one of the most interesting moments in the artist's oeuvre. The composition is structured through sweeping black lines, expressive paths of force and chains of drips, while the choreography of the fields of colour, which would develop into a pure chromatic resonance in the disc paintings, plays out all around them. Viewers' eyes are drawn along the curves and lines, thus conveying a fluid rhythm that is simultaneously full of tonal contrasts and spatial openness.


We would like to thank Magdalene Claesges and Brigitte Schlüter, Ernst Wilhelm Nay-Foundation Cologne, for kind information. The watercolour painting will be included in vol. III of the catalogue raisonné under the no. 54-092.


Private possession, Belgium; Galerie Thomas, Munich (frame label, no 3430); Private collection, South Germany


Munich 1983 (Galerie Thomas), exhibition no. 49, cat. no. 21 with illus.