Ernst Wilhelm Nay was a German painter known for his association with the Art Informel movement and post-World War II artists such as Karel Appel, Jean Dubuffet, and Alberto Burri. Despite working exclusively in abstraction, Nay’s distinctive Expressionistic use of color and textile-like patterning show the influence of representational painters like Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and the Henri Matisse. Born on June 1, 1911 in Berlin, Germany, he went on to study under Karl Hofer at the Berlin Art Academy. Nay was on track for a successful career in Germany, until the Nazi regime labeled his work as Degenerate, thereby making it illegal for him to show or even produce artworks. After being conscripted into the Nazi army, the artist served in France where he was able to secretly paint in a friend’s sculpture studio. It was not until a decade after the war with his participation in the 1956 Venice Biennale that Nay made a breakthrough into the international art scene. Today, his works are in the collections of the Kunstmuseum Basel, the Tate Modern in London, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, among others. he died on April 8, 1968 in Cologne, Germany.
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