Sale: 545 / Evening Sale, Dec. 08. 2023 in Munich Lot 5


Ernst Wilhelm Nay
Himmlische Botschaft, 1946.
Oil on canvas
€ 100,000 - 150,000

$ 105,000 - 157,500

Himmlische Botschaft. 1946.
Oil on canvas.
Signed and dated in lower right. Once more dated on the reverse. 75 x 45 cm (29.5 x 17.7 in).

• With "Himmlische Botschaft", Nay succeeds in creating a particularly dense and colorful narration.
• From the series of works of the "Hekate Pictures", which marked the important transition from figuration to abstraction.
• In a style that anticipates key elements of the 'Eye-' and 'Disk Pictures', the artist created the composition entirely from the color.
• A year after the work was made, it was shown in the grand group show "Moderne deutsche Kunst seit 1933" at Kunsthalle Bern

PROVENANCE: Galerie Alex Vömel - Kunstkabinett Hans Trojanski, Düsseldorf 1947.
Private collection North Rhine-Westphalia.
Ever since family-owned.

EXHIBITION: E. W. Nay, Galerie Günther Franke, Munich, October 1946, cat. no. 13.
Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Galerie Alex Vömel - Kunstkabinett Hans Trojanski, Düsseldorf, January 1947, cat. no. 11.
Moderne deutsche Kunst seit 1933, Kunsthalle Bern, July 26 - August 31, 1947, cat. no. 198.
Moderne deutsche Kunst seit 1933 (section of Rhenish art in the exhibition at Kunsthalle Bern), Kunstsammlung der Stadt Düsseldorf, Nov./Dec. 1947, cat. no. 96.

LITERATURE: Aurel Scheibler, Siegfried Gohr, Ernst Wilhelm Nay. Catalogue raisonné of oil paintings, vol. I, 1922-1951, Cologne, 1990, cat. no. 363 (with color illu.)

Elisabeth Nay-Scheibler, Die Titel der Hekate-Bilder, in: Ernst Wilhelm Nay. Die Hofheimer Jahre 1945–51, Frankfurt a. M. 1994, pp. 69–75, here p. 72 (with fig. on p. 73).
Magdalene Claesges (-Bette), Die Geburt des Elementaren Bildes aus dem Geist der Abstraktion. Versuch einer Deutung der theoretischen Schriften von Ernst Wilhelm Nay. PhD thesis Cologne 2001, p. 75 (fig. 30).
Friedrich Weltzien, E. W. Nay - Figur und Körperbild. Kunst und Kunsttheorie der vierziger Jahre, Berlin 2003, pp. 199-220.

"The theme of communicating with the transcendental can also be found in pictures like (..) 'Himmlische Botschaft'. (..) These primal images of human desire dissolve in the forces of Nay's abstract style."
Elisabeth Nay-Scheibler, Die Titel der Hekate-Bilder, in: Ernst Wilhelm Nay. Die Hofheimer Jahre 1945–51, Frankfurt a. M. 1994, pp. 69–75, here p. 72.

"The color in the mythical pictures made between 1940 and 1950, in the light of a gradually increasing encryption of the figurative, unfolded great splendor. From year to year, it became more obvious that, in terms of intensity and exclusiveness, Nay's rare talent for colors was a true blessing for German art."
Georg Schmidt, former director of Kunstmuseum Basel, 1962, quoted from: Galerie Günther Franke, Nay, aus der Sammlung und Galerie Günther Franke, Munich 1973, p. 68

Called up: December 8, 2023 - ca. 17.08 h +/- 20 min.

Hofheim am Taunus / The designation "Hekate-Pictures
The designation "Hekate Pictures" came into existence at a much later point, recalls Elisabeth Nay-Scheibler. In 1950/51, when Nay was already turning to new themes, to the fugal pictorial forms, his good friend and mentor Ernst Gosebruch, long-time director of the Museum Folkwang in Essen who was dismissed from his post by the National Socialists in 1933, visited him. He inquired about the paintings he had previously created in Hofheim, of which he remembered only one title: "Tochter der Hekate" (Daughter of Hecate). This way the denomination of the stylistic period of the years 1945 to 1948 came about in passing.

After the end of the war, which Ernst Wilhelm Nay spent as a cartographer in France, he did not return to Berlin, but to the idyllic town of Hofheim am Taunus. Through the mediation of the artist and gallery owner Hanna Bekker vom Rath, he moved into the abandoned studio of Ottilie Roederstein, a German-Swiss painter who died in Hofheim in 1937. The paintings that Nay created there during the six years he stayed, are filled with fierce and burning colors. A pictorial language borne entirely by color, which at first remained committed to figuration, culminated in the so-called ‘Hekate Pictures’ in 1945-1948, a creative period inspired by an ancient myth. The starting point of the ‘Hekate’ phase were pictures dominated by a figure or a pair of figures, whereby Nay certainly found certain orientation with Picasso's cubist human type of the 1930s and early 1940s. In a letter to his friend and collector Erich Meyer from December 28, 1945, he describes the activation of pictorial space through color as the goal of his artistic work: "My pictures have a multitude of very strong colors and they are painted with a maximum degree of painterly freedom. I am just about to take yet another leap forward. Colorful dynamics, surface rhythm, ornament and relief, these have so far been my means of creating the space of painting. For this reason I have been extremely careful about - as it is also the spirit of my art, which now emphasizes the magical, the enchanting more than ever before - depicting spatial depths with these means. That shall happen now." (quoted from: E. W. Nay 1902-1968. Bilder und Dokumente, Munich 1980, p. 90)

Unusual color mixtures emerge and deepen a highly differentiated coloration
For Nay, the preoccupation with an abstractly structured surface fabric is a logical consequence after the ever-increasing condensation of figurative pictorial structures in the "Hekate Pictures". Part of this consideration is to design that "complex of primal forms in connection with rhythm and dynamics" as open as possible so that, according to Nay, "the actual formal theme of my art can develop as a whole" (quoted from: ex. cat. E. W. Nay 1902-1968. Bilder und Dokumente, Nuremberg and Munich 1980, p. 62). With the exception of the surreal landscapes, the first truly Nayian pictorial theme, Nay's artistic development was basically always underpinned by rhythm and dynamism, for example from the clearly structured "Fishermen- " and "Lofoten-Pictures", which represent a simplified representationalism, to the "Hekate-Pictures", abstractly structured works that still show notions of figuration characteristic of the compositions created in France. Here one encounters the meanwhile catchy form and figuration typical of Nay's iconography, with which Nay strove, as Werner Haftmann so fittingly describes, to "factually disassemble the individual color surfaces, to isolate and work through them as individual qualities and to clearly define them as independent elements of the spatial plan order, but also as isolated color voices" (Werner Haftmann, E. W. Nay, Cologne 1991, p. 153). In a figurative sense, Nay's "Hekate-Pictures" of the first years after the war can be understood as works in which he gives expression to gloomy memories in formal terms, while his titles give the observer a little insight into the mysterious process of the artistic activity. Thus the artist replaced the figurative inventions from the time in France with themes from literature, Greek mythology and the Old Testament. The titles, mostly given only after Nay had completed the painting, now read: 'Annunciation', 'Paolo and Francesca', 'Daughter of Hecate', 'Sitting before the Mirror', 'Sibyl', 'Oberon, 'Salome', 'Eurydice', 'Shepherd', 'Autumn Song', 'Kythera' and 'Lot's Wife' or, as here, 'Himmlische Botschaft' (Heavenly Message), The formal vocabulary of circle, spindle, checkerboard, and hands that is recurrent in Nay's paintings is visibly interwoven with mostly coded figure and landscape associations in the "Hekate-Pictures." In addition, meaningful names give the "Hekate-Pictures" a mythical sound. And this sound is supported by a sophisticated expansion of the palette. Color mixtures that had never been used before appear: white, lemon yellow, ocher, brown, dark brown, orange, light red, dark red, light blue, dark blue, light green, dark green, light gray, and black. The surface and depth of the coloration open up a rich, highly differentiated spectrum. The application of paint, here and there slightly impasto, reinforces a peculiarly precious relief effect, as if we were dealing with highly alien entities. By stretching the forms, Nay fosters a two-dimensional tension, raises the weight-bearing capacity, and increases the tempo.

The painting "Himmlische Botschaft" is a picture painted entirely out of the color. For observers familiar with Nay's vocabulary of forms, the details reveal a fan-shaped hand, open eyes pointing to a face, in the center below, two rounded forms side by side, evoking the back view of a figure? A vocabulary that already includes circular and spindle shapes so characteristic of Nay's later 'Disk-' and 'Eye Pictures'. [MvL]


Buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation for Ernst Wilhelm Nay "Himmlische Botschaft"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation, artist‘s resale right compensation is due.

Differential taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 32 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 27 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 22 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 27 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 21% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 15% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The statutory VAT of currently 19 % is levied to the sum of hammer price and premium. As an exception, the reduced VAT of 7 % is added for printed books.

We kindly ask you to notify us before invoicing if you wish to be subject to regular taxation.

Calculation of artist‘s resale right compensation:
For works by living artists, or by artists who died less than 70 years ago, a artist‘s resale right compensation is levied in accordance with Section 26 UrhG:
4 % of hammer price from 400.00 euros up to 50,000 euros,
another 3 % of the hammer price from 50,000.01 to 200,000 euros,
another 1 % for the part of the sales proceeds from 200,000.01 to 350,000 euros,
another 0.5 % for the part of the sale proceeds from 350,000.01 to 500,000 euros and
another 0.25 % of the hammer price over 500,000 euros.
The maximum total of the resale right fee is EUR 12,500.

The artist‘s resale right compensation is VAT-exempt.