new-york

E. W. Nay

Knoedler Galleries

E. W. Nay, the German colorist, died at the age of 66 in Cologne in April of this year, and Knoedler’s has presented, in his first posthumous retrospective, a large sampling of the painter’s last works. I found them peculiarly pathetic and self-consciously hesitant, betraying the failure of both hand and vision to consummate themselves in old age with the authority and boldness one marveled at in a painter like Matisse, or with the confidence Nay himself must have possessed as a young artist. The often awkwardly achieved configurations, with their partly biomorphic, partly jagged and irregular geometry, bump each other uncomfortably across canvases of modest dimensions.

Earlier in his career Nay was concerned with the acausal relations of forms, and with a deliberate disregard for which color was placed adjacent to another. While these methods and attitudes are still in some evidence in

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