Ernst Wilhelm Nay


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German painter, born in Berlin, where he trained at the Academy under Hofer, 1925–8. He visited Paris in 1928 and Rome in 1930, but more significant for his work was a trip to Norway (as a guest of Munch) in 1937, during which he visited the Lofoten Islands, within the Arctic Circle. They inspired a series of powerful Expressionist landscapes, with heavy brush-strokes and vivid colours, in which he first developed a personal style. His work was declared degenerate by the Nazis and he was called up for military service in 1940, but he managed to continue to paint whilst serving in France. After the war Nay lived in Hofheim until 1951, when he settled in Cologne. By this time he was working in a completely abstract style, characteristically featuring large, freely arranged spots of sumptuous colour. By the mid-1950s Nay was regarded as one of his country's leading painters: he was prominently represented in the first three documenta exhibitions in 1955, 1959, and 1964, and he was West Germany's representative at the Venice Biennale in 1964.

Subjects: Art.

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