Ernst Wilhelm Nay - Ohne Titel (Untitled), 1963

Watercolour on paper

41 x 59 cm / framed 68 x 86 cm
16 x 23 inch / framed 26 x 33 inch

Signed, dated "Nay 63"
Cat.Rais. Claesges, Volume 3, No. 63-020
 

- with craftsman's frame with UV light consuming pane -

N 9182

About the work

This predominantly blue–coloured sheet opens itself readily to the observer. Despite the darkish colours – Nay works with black to accentuate the intervening spaces – the watercolour is without question possessed of a quite distinctive lightness of mood. By virtue of the overlaying and close juxtaposition of the curved forms, the transparency of the watercolours generates an enormous impression of depth. And despite the prevalence of black hues, the blue appears radiant and the few additional splashes of colour conjure an overall feeling of joy.
This is clearly a work of transition. For although the disc shape still plays a crucial role in the pictorial composition, Nay has abandoned the dance–like rhythm of the disc pictures. But the relaxed playful abutting of the individual colour forms recedes into the background to give precedence to the precisely rendered and clearly contoured circles. Here too the magical signs of the eye are visible, which lend the work a cultic character. Colour spaces and surfaces are clearly separated.In a diary entry made on 10th July, 1963, Nay refers to his art, or as himself dubbed it, his "absolute painting" as an "invention of our century – an invention for the self–fulfilment of man, an invention as powerful and influential as the splitting of the atom, as electronics and the concomitant emergence of cybernetics, as the concept of a universe […] Art is fortunate to be able to comprehensively interpret." Nay's approach here clearly illustrates that his painting is neither the representation of a relative sensibility not that of a linear, apprehensible moment. Rather more, the perception of the artist encompasses very different levels of our world, and his painting sets out to render these deeper structures of being more comprehensible. In formulating Nay's artistic intention in 1966, Werner Haftmann stated: "It abounds in latent artistic implications which under the pressure of intellectual stimulation, empirical and visual experiences, speculation of a philosophical or scientific nature are ultimately distilled – and out of which in a surge of sudden creativity a work of pure contemplation emerges."
(E. W. Nay – Bilder und Dokumente, Munich 1980, p. 192, in: Über die neuen Bilder von E. W. Nay, E. W. Nay, exh.cat. Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Akademie der Künste, Berlin und Städtische Kunsthalle, Mannheim, 1966/1967, p. 7–14, here: p. 11)
(Andrea Fink–Belgin)

Text authored and provided by Dr Andrea Fink, art historian

The art historian, curator and freelance publicist Andrea Fink studied art history, cultural studies and humanities, modern history and philosophy in Bochum and Vienna. Doctorate in 2007 on the work of the Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. As a freelance curator and art consultant, her clients include, among others, the Kunstverein (art association) Ahlen, Kunstverein Soest, Wella Museum, Museum am Ostwall Dortmund, ThyssenKrupp AG, Kulturstiftung Ruhr, Osthaus Museum Hagen, Franz Haniel GmbH, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria.

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Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Untitled, 1963, 41 x 59 cm / framed 68 x 86 cm, N 9182
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