Sale: 540 / Evening Sale, June 09. 2023 in Munich Lot 51


Ernst Wilhelm Nay
Motion, 1962.
Oil on canvas
€ 400,000 - 600,000

$ 440,000 - 660,000

Motion. 1962.
Oil on canvas.
Scheibler 1028. Signed and dated in lower right. Signed, dated, titled and with a direction arrow on the reverse. 150 x 200 cm (59 x 78.7 in).

• Monumental, particularly dynamic painting from the famous period of the 'Disk Pictures' (1954 - 1962).
• High-contrast color spectacle of energetically moving and at the same time dissolving forms.
• From the collection of one of Nay's most important patrons, the renowned gallerist Günther Franke, Munich (1900-1976).
• Works from the group of the “Disk Pictures” are at, among others, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1961), the Nationalgalerie Berlin (1957) and the Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main (1962)

PROVENANCE: Günther Franke Collection, Munich.
Private collection Hesse.
Private collection North Rhine-Westphalia (since 1998).

EXHIBITION: E. W. Nay. Sechzehn große Bilder, Galerie Günther Franke, Munich, June 2 - mid July 1962, cat. no. 14.
Ernst Wilhelm Nay. Gemälde 1955-1964, Kunstverein Hamburg / Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe / Kunstverein Steinernes Haus, Frankfurt a. Main, September 26, 1964 - February 14, 1965, cat. no. 35 (color plate 15, with the label on the reverse).
50 Jahre Galerie Günther Franke. Nay - Bilder, Aquarelle, Gouachen, Zeichnungen aus der Sammlung und Galerie Günther Franke, Munich, October 20 - December 22, 1973, cat. no. 11.
Ernst Wilhelm Nay. Arbeiten aus Privatbesitz, Neues Rathaus, Weiden (Upper Palatinate), October 1 - November 5, 1995.
Abstrakte Kunst, Neues Museum, Nuremberg, May 19 - July 9, 2000, p. 75 (with illu. on p. 149).
Rupprecht Matthies, Peter Zimmermann, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Malerei, Adolf Luther, Plastiken, und Werke weiterer Künstler, Produzentengalerie Hamburg, January 31 - March 15, 2003.

LITERATURE: Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich, September 25, 1963 (with illu.).
50 Jahre Galerie Günther Franke. Nay - Bilder, Aquarelle, Gouachen, Zeichnungen aus der Sammlung und Galerie Günther Franke, Munich 1973, p. 88 (with illu., p. 89).
Werner Haftmann, E. W. Nay, Cologne 1991, p. 240.

Called up: June 9, 2023 - ca. 18.40 h +/- 20 min.

Rhythm and dynamics - the "Disk Pictures"
It is always fascinating to see how Ernst Wilhelm Nay succeeds in expressing his pronounced empathetic sense for the order of color and form: dominant shades of blue in contrast to ocher and yellow tones, a little black and a restrained red give the sea of colors direction and substance. The most important characteristic of Nay's paintings is the rhythmic design of the picture surface solely achieved through the use of color. The paint is applied onto the canvas and the circular movements of the brush inevitably form disks. With this conscious, painterly extension of the forms, Nay began his most famous creative period, the so-called "Disk Pictures", in 1954. In our painting "Motion" from 1962, the artist developed the theme and juxtaposed the disks, which he applied with generous brush strokes as clustered energy fields. "The bright colors erupt even hotter from the dark depths. And as the repetition of the undisputed cheerfulness of early ‘Disk’ pictures ran danger of becoming shallow, Nay began to unleash darker, more chaotic forces, giving his paintings a home between Elysium and Acheron. Thus they provide a better account of the realities of life and time. [..] And furthermore, in the gray everyday life of the younger generation, Nay is a great master of color", is how the Swiss art historian Georg Schmidt and former director of the Kunstmuseum Basel characterized this development in 1962 (Georg Schmidt , quoted from: E. W. Nay – 60 Jahre, Museum Folkwang, Essen 1962, p. 29).
The power of colors
Nay uses the effectiveness of the primary colors yellow, red and blue and thus creates both a light-dark and a warm-cold contrast that forms the entire pictorial structure. The color is not forced into a creative form by art-historical models, formal rules or artistic schemes: the color is allowed to speak for itself in freely set circles, semicircles, gestural lines and free areas of varying sizes. This way Nay skillfully places the darkness of black in front of a yellow ball in this composition, which is particularly dynamic within his oeuvre, and thus creates a 'yellow darkness'. This design includes a centering effect that gives the other color fields additional complexity and power. Boldly, Nay paints over the blue with quick and impasto strokes of yellow and red. Bright, radiant blue, deep red and sunny yellow are overlaid by energetic, gestural brushstrokes.
Thus the passionate, dynamic work of the artist can be experienced in every corner of the painting: He makes an effort to encircle the pictorial bodies that are charged with a fervid temper, with the aim of exposing a gap in order to gain a view of a new field and thus to emotionally control the energetic tremor of the pictorial structure.

Plane and disk in progressing abstraction
"In order to avoid figuration and for the sake of the surface, the disk is strongly dissolved into the surface, and what I found in the painting - that is my definition of the automatic - is enforced - in order to keep the surface in front and for the sake of the changing structures. However, the disk remains the essential means of surface design," wrote Ernst Wilhelm Nay to his friend Werner Haftmann, the artistic director of the documenta at the time, on May 12, 1960. He continued: "The disk is wholeness, so it becomes a stylistic means, which is its secret that must not be disclosed. But as it is, salvation and disaster can rage together. With these words, I am lifting the curtain a bit on what goes beyond my painting." (Quoted from: E. W. Nay. Lesebuch, Selbstzeugnisse und Schriften 1931-1968, Cologne 2002, p. 196). The success of this new orientation of his art, which Nay now reflects more than ever with color theory and methodological insights, documents a great sovereignty in dealing with the artistic means. At that time, Nay stood almost symbolically for the confrontation between figuration and abstraction, and the painter's success, which set in at around the same time, may have contributed to the fact that the central work period of the "Disk Pictures" would be the longest within Nay's oeuvre by far.

From the Günther Franke Collection
The Munich art dealer Günther Franke was a key figure for Ernst Wilhelm Nay's success. Nay met him in the 1930s and he would become an outstanding patron of his art in the decades that followed. Even more than that, the correspondence between the two men shows how friendly, close and personal their exchange was. Our painting "Motion" once belonged to the important collection of the art dealer, as the catalog published for the Nay solo show at Galerie Günther Franke in 1973, on occasion of the gallery’s 50th anniversary, shows: The catalog distinguishes between the gallery’s works and those in Günther Franke’s private collection. It is not hard to guess that Franke must have had a fancy for this picture in particular.
The title "Motion" already announces it: the disks are more in motion than ever before, and at the same time seem to be slowly dissolving. The apocalyptic 'Yellow Darkness' reinforces the impression that Nay was taking the disk images to whole new limits and thus to their climax. A new creative phase - the one dominated by the "Eye Pictures" - was announced. The outstanding position of "Motion" as the grand finale of the "Disk Pictures" and a harbinger of a new mode of expression, obviously did not escape Franke's notice. [MvL]


Buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation for Ernst Wilhelm Nay "Motion"
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.