Ernst Wilhelm Nay

(Berlin 1902 - 1968 Köln)

During his lifetime Ernst Wilhelm Nay was already awarded prizes for his work and even today he is considered one of the most important German artists of modernism. His work phases, titled and ordered by himself even as they were emerging, allow us to trace his development from an early work that was initially figurative, expressionist, and still influenced by his teacher Karl Hofer, to a gradually more abstract oeuvre after World War II, concerned with the effects of form and color on canvas. Nay wrote writings on art theory, participated several times in the documenta in Kassel, and was a member of the Deutscher Künstlerbund. (ED)


born in Berlin
1925 - 1928
Karl Hofer's painting class
1926 - 1927
exhibitions, among others in the "Berliner Secession" and "Münchner Neue Secession", master student of Hofer
1928 - 1929
travels to Paris
1931 - 1932
State Prize of the Prussian Academy of Arts and scholarship at the Villa Massimo in Rome
1934 - 1935
"dune and fishermen pictures"
visits the island of Sylt and the Baltic Sea
1937 - 1938
10 works are confiscated as "degenerate art" from public ownership
1940 - 1944
war service in France
cartographer in Le Mans, first gouaches are created
visits Kandinsky in Paris, Nay's studio is destroyed by bombs
1945 - 1948
"Hekate pictures"
participation in the Venice Biennale
1949 - 1951
"fugal pictures"
first retrospective at the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hanover
relocation to Cologne
"Rhythmic Pictures", Karl Ströher Prize Darmstadt
large travelling exhibition (Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Bremen and Lübeck), guest lecturer at the Landeskunstschule in Hamburg
participation in the exhibition of the group ZEN 49 as a member, first "Scheiben-Aquarelle", solo exhibition in Kleemann Galleries in New York, in the Kunsthalle Hamburg and Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover, Lichtwark-Award in Hamburg, documenta I in Kassel, Biennale Sao Paolo, publication "Vom Gestaltwert der Farbe" by E.W. Nay
Venice Biennale, Grand Prize of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia
participation in "German Art of Twentieth Century" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York
documenta II
Guggenheim Award, solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle in Basel
retrospective at the Folkwang Museum in Essen
1963 - 1964
"Eye pictures"
documenta III
1966 - 1967
travels to Morocco, exhibitions at the Akademie der Künste Berlin, Städtische Kunsthalle Mannheim and Museum des 20. Jhs. in Vienna
dies in Cologne