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Ernest Wilhelm Nay

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Ernest Wilhelm Nay

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Abstract

The case of Ernst Wilhelm Nay is a curious one: he is an “international” painter without an international reputation. He works in a style that could be French, Italian, German, American or Japanese, or none of these, and although he is the favorite son of many German critics and collectors, he has received little attention outside of his native Germany. (Nay's paintings were frequently shown in New York City at the gallery of Henry Kleeman.—ED.) Nay's limited audience can partly be explained by the isolated character of art activity in Germany today: whereas New York has its countless galleries and museums, Italy its Biennale, and France its Paris, Germany still has a war-torn economy to rebuild, and Nay has exhibited very little outside of Germany. Unlike many of his contemporary countrymen—Hartung, Beckman, Ernst, Hofmann, and Grosz, to name a few—Nay chose to remain in Germany through the 30s and 40s (except for a short time in Norway as a guest of Edvard Munch), and he remained there in spite of the fact that his painting was condemned and outlawed by the Nazi party in 1936.

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