Johanna Ey

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Johanna Ey (4 March, 1864 – 27 August, 1947) was an art dealer in Germany during the 1920s. She became known as Mutter Ey (Mother Ey) for the nurturing support she provided to her artists, who included Max Ernst and Otto Dix.


Ey was born in humble circumstances in Wickrath (today a quarter of Mönchengladbach). At the age of 19 she moved to Düsseldorf. She married and had twelve children, of whom eight died young. In 1910, middle aged and divorced, she opened a bakery in the proximity of the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts. This became a popular meeting place of actors, journalists, musicians and especially painters, who appreciated her policy of granting credit to artists and students. She displayed their works in her shop windows, and became a collector of art by accepting paintings as payment.

In 1916 she closed her café and opened a gallery on the Hindenburgwall (today Heinrich Heine avenue), where she showed works by academic painters. In the years following World War I, however, the gallery became the center of the artists of the "Junge Rheinland" (Young Rhineland) group. Ey initially decided to exhibit their art not for theoretical or economic reasons, but rather because of her personal friendships with the artists, although she quickly became an energetic proponent of modernism. Her support for her artists extended even to darning their socks, and she defended Wollheim and Dix when they were hauled into court on charges that their paintings...
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