Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902-1968)
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Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902-1968)

Blauklang (Bluesounds)

Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902-1968)
Blauklang (Bluesounds)
signed and dated 'Nay. 53' (lower right)
oil on canvas
39¾ x 47¼in. (101 x 120cm.)
Painted in 1953
Galerie Günter Franke, Munich.
Private Collection, Germany.
Anon. sale, Christie's London, 30 June 1988, lot. 553.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
A. Scheibler, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Werkverseichnis der Ölgemälde, Band II 1952-1968, Cologne 1990, no. 665 (illustrated, p. 46).
Recklinghausen, Städtische Kunsthalle, Zeugnisse Europäischer Gemeinsamkeit, 1954, no. 142.
Freiburg im Breisgau, Augustinermuseum, Deutsche Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts, 1965, no. 95. Bremen, Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst, Paint It Blue ACT art collection siegfried loch, 2007 (illustrated in colour, p. 17).
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Lot Essay

Radiating with a wealth of indigo, midnight and cyan tones, Blauklang by Ernst Wilhelm Nay was the very first painting to be acquired by Siegfried Loch over twenty years ago, at the beginning of his staggering blue collection. The title itself, translated in English means Bluesounds: a fitting tribute to the music producer and blues enthusiast. The painting is particularly significant within Ernst Wilhelm Nay's oeuvre, representing the moment of transition between his Rhythmische Bilder (Rhythmic Pictures) of the early 1950s and his celebrated series of Scheibenbilder (Disc paintings). Proliferating with gestural forms and brilliant, circular spots of colour across its surface, the painting takes on a lyrical almost rhythmic form, reflecting the vibrant mood of post-War Cologne. In Blauklang, the work is animated with trails of spots and densely painted blocks of colour in vermillion red, and aquamarine. Gestured over one portion of the surface are impulsive, linear strokes of paint, breaking up the pulsating array of improvised shapes. Nay moved to Cologne in 1951, encountering a vital cultural atmosphere despite the years of privation caused by the War. Contemporary composers such as Boulez, Nono and Stockhausen were busy expressing a new freedom in music and Nay became readily involved in these performances. The artist staged his own visual events and these 'veritably effervesced with joie de vivre, rhythm, opulence of colour, rapidity of stroke, and a reveling in energy-charged movement' (S. Gohr, 'Ernst Wilhelm Nay - An Essay', Ernst Wilhelm Nay, exh. cat., Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam 1998, p. 27).

Blauklang marks the height of this period. Indeed in this work he translates onto canvas a sense of 'surface choreography' and 'surface tension', similar to that encountered in the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Embarking upon his Scheibenbilder (Disc paintings) in 1954, he combined this free, musical aesthetic with painted circular forms. As he himself explained, 'if I set a coloured dot on an empty surface an astonishing number of tensions were created. If I spread out the dot, the tensions increased. A second such disc, a third, a forth - all the same size, already created a highly complicated formal relation. A number of colours also emerged if I made each disc a different colour, they could be regarded as a chromatic sequence. The spaces between created forms and could be developed quite mechanically with the same colours in a specific alternation, creating a corrugated surface so that interlinking resulted this way of experimenting with a pictorial whole enabled endless variations' (E. W. Nay quoted in Nay Retrospektive, exh. cat., Josef Haubrich Kunsthalle, Cologne 1991, pp. 36-37).

It was during these years that Nay made his decisive breakthrough, gaining recognition not only in Germany but internationally. In 1955, just two years after this painting was realised, the artist received his first one-man retrospective in the United States and was honoured with a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale and inclusion in Dokumenta.

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