“…A sizable Surrealist whose highly individual pictures are mirrors of the universal Self.” - The New York Times
Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco will present Kurt Seligmann: First Message from the Spirit World of the Object, from May 9th to August 22nd. The exhibition will be the first major American retrospective in 55 years. The exhibition will feature over 50 paintings spanning all four decades of the artist’s oeuvre as well as several important works on paper. Additionally, Weinstein Gallery will host a Seligmann symposium featuring a webcast roundtable discussion and a book release of the first English-language scholarship on the artist. The roundtable will begin on May 9th at 4PM, followed by the exhibition opening at 6PM.
Said gallery owner Rowland Weinstein, "I purchased my first Seligmann six years ago. When the painting came into the gallery, all the young artists on staff went crazy over it. None had ever heard of him, but each had a deep response to the powerful imagery and painterly quality. That reaction inspired me. Seligmann was decades ahead of his time and remains relevant now. The work feels contemporary today but this is an artist who started painting in the 1930s and has been included in every important Surrealism exhibition including most recently the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Fondation Beyeler and currently at the Boca Raton Museum. Seligman’s art drives me powerfully and I feel humbled to host the first major Seligmann exhibition in half a century."
Kurt Seligmann (1900 – 1962) was one of the original Surrealist artists, and the first to come to the United States from Europe in the years leading up to World War II. His work encompasses paintings and etchings steeped in mythology, the occult, and dreamlike imagery. Born in Basel, Switzerland in 1900, Seligmann studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Geneva and the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence before moving to Paris in 1927, where he began to experiment with Surrealism. André Breton, the father of Surrealism, accepted him as a member of the Parisian Surrealist group in 1937. In 1939, just before the war, Seligmann and his wife Arlette moved to New York, where he began exhibiting his paintings at the Karl Nierendorf Gallery. He exhibited regularly in other New York galleries during this period, and taught at Brooklyn College. During WWII, Seligmann spearheaded efforts to bring other Surrealist artists from Europe to the safety of the United States, and his work continued to flourish in the 1940s. The artist’s keen interest in magic and the occult led him to author the book, The Mirror of Magic, in 1948. Seligmann died in 1962 at his farm in upstate New York.
“…To leave Seligmann out is comparable to trying to build an arch without a keystone,” wrote Murdock Pemberton, the first art critic for the New Yorker, to John Canaday, art critic of The New York Times, about Seligmann’s exclusion in the D’Arcy Gallery’s Surrealist Intrusion- In the Enchanted Domain, 1960.
Kurt Seligmann: First Message from the Spirit World of the Object will be the first exhibition mounted in Weinstein Gallery’s new location at 444 Clementina Street in San Francisco.
Weinstein Gallery will publish Kurt Seligmann: First Message from the Spirit World of the Object, the first English-language book dedicated to the life and work of the artist, to coincide with the exhibition. The monograph features images from Seligmann’s life and of his work. The art historians Stephan E. Hauser, Stephen Robeson Miller, and Martica Sawin contribute essays with an introduction by famed Columbia art historian Meyer Shapiro, reprinted with permissions from Seligmann’s last retrospective in the United States in 1961.