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Ernst Wilhelm Nay



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Ernst Wilhelm Nay was one of the most significant German artists working after World War II in the style of art informel, the European version of American Abstract Expressionism. Nay was conscripted in 1940 to serve as an army cartographer in France; his postwar paintings, however, do not directly address his wartime experiences. As his work became progressively more abstract after the war, his bold use of color remained largely constant. Terz, an allusion to musical composition, is one of Nay’s disc paintings from the late 1950s and early 1960s. It is composed employing large circles of vibrant red, yellow, blue, and turquoise. Indeed, color relationships are one of the primary subjects of the disc paintings. Nay explained the use of the pattern of discs as an instinctive choice based on the natural movement of the artist’s hand in circular motions, evincing his interest in the physical process of painting itself. His loose, gestural brushwork visualizes motion and energy during the process of execution, underscoring abstract time as an essential characteristic. [Permanent collection label, 2016]

  • Artist Ernst Wilhelm Nay (German, 1902–1968)
  • Title Terz
  • Date 1962
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions unframed | 31 1/2 x 23 3/4 in.
  • Credit line Gift of Commerce Bancshares, Inc., in honor of Laura Kemper Fields, 2013
  • Object number WU 2013.0008.0001

E. W. Nay: 60 Jahre
Museum Folkwang (Essen, Germany), 09/15/1962 - 10/21/1962

Laura Fields, Commerce Bank, Kansas City, MO (Robin Trafton at Bank)

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