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  • Kurt Seligmann


    Art Brokerage: Kurt Seligmann Swiss-American Artist: b. 1900-1962. Kurt Leopold Seligmann (1900–1962) was a Swiss-American Surrealist painter and engraver. He was known for his fantastic imagery of medieval troubadors and knights engaged in macabre rituals and inspired partially by the carnival held annually in his native Basel, Switzerland. After study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Geneva and several unhappy years working in his father's business in Basel, Seligmann left for Paris where he looked up his old friends from Geneva, sculptor Alberto Giacometti and art critic Pierre Courthion. During this time he also met Ivy Langton (who may have become an artist due to inspiration from Kurt). Through Giacometti he met Hans Arp and Jean Helion, who admired his sinister biomorphic paintings and invited him to join their group, Abstraction-Creation Art Non-Figuratif. In the mid-1930s his work began to take on a more baroque aspect, as he animated the prancing figures in his paintings and etchings with festoons of ribbons, drapery, and heraldic paraphernalia. Seligmann's art continued to evolve and reached maturity during the 1940s in the United States, where he did his best work. Beginning in 1940, he and Arlette lived at the Beaux Arts Building at Fortieth Street in Manhattan, and later they acquired a farm north of the city in the hamlet of Sugar Loaf, New York (in Orange County). Seligmann befriended many American artists and became a close friend of the art historian, Meyer Schapiro. With Schapiro as author, in 1944 he produced a limited edition set of six etchings illustrating the Myth of Oedipus, surely his masterpiece in this medium and one of the greatest works of Surrealist printmaking. As the Surrealists' expert on magic, he also wrote a history of it, The Mirror of Magic (Pantheon Books, 1948). Mythology and esoterica always infused the fascinating and turbulent imagery of his "dance macabre" paintings. His work then began to be exhibited widely and acquired by museums throughout the United States and Europe after the war. Listings wanted.

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