Ernst Wilhelm Nay was one of Germany’s leading post-war expressionists. His abstract paintings are associated with the Art Informel movement of the 1940s and 1950s in which European artists such as Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Burri, and Karel Appel explored a gestural, informal style that was defined by automatism, the artistic process by which artists create work inspired the unconscious. The devastation of the World War II and impact of Hitler’s regime severely challenged this group of artists. Like many of other modern German artists, Nay was exhibited in Hitler’s infamous 1937 Degenerate Art exhibition that essentially blacklisted all the artists that were included, declaring that their art did not follow the standards of classical, idealized “German” artwork. The exhibition made it illegal for Wilhelm Nay to exhibit or produce artwork in Germany. His artistic career was further hindered as he was conscripted to fight for Germany in WWII. However, the artist continued to draw and paint in secret. After the war’s conclusion, Nay retook his position on the international art stage in the 1950s and became celebrated for his unique mastery of color.


  • Title: Figurale Komposition
  • Creator: Ernst Wilhelm Nay
  • Date Created: 1949
  • Location: Germany
  • Physical Dimensions: w20 x h22.5 in
  • Class: 2-dimensional
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: All rights reserved
  • Medium: gouache on paper

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