Kurt Seligmann papers
Scope and Contents
The Kurt Seligmann Papers consist of correspondence, personal papers, photographs, and artwork documenting his personal life and artwork. The papers provide insight into Seligmann's work as a surrealist painter and engraver as well as his circle of friends, many of whom were artists and writers. Correspondents include Nicolas Calas, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Pierre Courthion, Enrico Donati, Jean Dubuffet, Charles Duits, Georges Duthuit, Fernand Leger, Pierre Mabille, André-Aimé-René Masson, Robert Motherwell, Taro Okamoto, Amédée Ozenfant, Wolfgang Paalen, Murdock Pemberton, Kay Sage, and Yves Tanguy. The correspondence sheds light on Seligmann's efforts following his move to the United States to provide support for his friends left in France during World War II. Correspondence and newspaper clippings provide evidence of Seligmann's work to organize exhibitions of surrealist artwork.
- 1883 - 1991
Language of Materials
In English, French, and German.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
14 (Record Album Storage): Use of originals is restricted. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.
Conditions Governing Use
The Kurt Seligmann Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Arlette Seligmann, 1993-1997.
Organized into five groupings: I. January 1993 Acquisition. II. January 1993 Acquisition. III. February 1993 Acquisition. IV. December 1997 Acquisition. V. December 1997 Acquisition.
22.35 Linear Feet ((41 boxes) + 1 record album storage, 1 broadside)
The Kurt Seligmann Papers consist of correspondence, personal papers, photographs, and artwork documenting his personal life and artwork. The papers provide insight into Seligmann's work as a surrealist painter and engraver and his circle of friends, many of whom were artists and writers. Correspondents include Nicolas Calas, Alexander Calder, Pierre Courthion, Enrico Donati, Jean Dubuffet, Charles Duits, Georges Duthuit, George W. Federoff, Fernand Léger, Pierre Mabille, Robert Motherwell, Tarō Okamoto, Amédée Ozenfant, Wolfgang Paalen, Kay Sage, and Yves Tanguy. Correspondence with collectors and gallerists can also be found in the papers. The correspondence sheds light on Seligmann's efforts following his move to the United States to provide support for his friends left in France during World War II. Correspondence and newspaper clippings provide evidence of Seligmann's work to organize exhibitions of surrealist artwork.
Kurt Seligmann (1900-1962)
Kurt Seligmann, Swiss-American painter, printmaker, sculptor, stage designer and writer, was born in Basel, Switzerland on July 20, 1900. Seligmann moved to Paris, France, after studying at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Geneva (1920) and at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence (1927). While in Paris, Seligmann was associated with the Surrealists and Abstraction-Création groups. During this period he also developed "Neo-Concretism" with Japanese artist Taro Okamoto. He exhibited in Basel, Bern, Brussels, Poland and Tokyo.
Seligmann married Arlette Paraf in 1935. Paraf was the granddaughter of Nathan Wildenstein who founded the Wildenstein Gallery.
At the outbreak of the second World War, Kurt and Arlette Seligmann emigrated to the United States, ultimately settling on a farm in Sugar Loaf, New York. In addition to producing artwork, Seligmann taught at the New School and Brooklyn College, and designed costumes and sets for dance performances. He authored two books on magic: The History of Magic (New York, 1948) and R as Magic, Supernaturalism and Religion (New York, 1968), the latter was published posthumously.
Seligmann died at his home in Sugar Loaf, New York on January 2, 1962.
This collection received a basic level of processing in 2014, including rehousing and in some instances minimal organization. Various acquisitions associated with the collection have not been merged and organized as a whole.
The finding aid for this collection is compiled from individual preliminary lists for each acquisition that were created at or around the time of receipt by the library. The preliminary lists were migrated to comply with current archival descriptive standards and merged into a single file in 2007-2008. As part of the migration, modifications were made to the formatting of individual lists; however, the content of the lists was neither modified nor verified.
As a rule, descriptive information found in the Collection Contents section is drawn in large part from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing.
This collection includes materials previously identified by the following call numbers: Uncat ZA MS 424, Uncat ZA MS 542, Uncat MSS 22, and Uncat MSS 78.
This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
- Art -- Collectors and collecting -- United States
- Art, American -- 20th Century
- Artists -- Europe -- 20th Century -- Archives
- Artists -- United States -- 20th Century
- Artists, American -- 20th century -- Archives
- Authors -- United States -- 20th century
- Calas, Nicolas, 1907-1988
- Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976
- Courthion, Pierre, 1902-
- Donati, Enrico, 1909-2008
- Drawings (visual works) -- United States -- 20th Century
- Dubuffet, Jean, 1901-1985
- Duits, Charles, 1925-1991
- Duthuit, Georges, 1891-1973
- Etchings (prints) -- United States -- 20th Century
- Expatriate artists
- Federoff, George W., 1906-2001
- Kuh, Katharine, 1904-1994
- Ludgin, Earle, 1898-1981
- Léger, Fernand, 1881-1955
- Mabille, Pierre, 1904-1952
- Modernism (Art)
- Motherwell, Robert, 1915-1991
- Negatives (photographic) -- United States -- 20th Century
- Okamoto, Tarō, 1911-1996
- Ozenfant, Amédée, 1886-1966
- Paalen, Wolfgang, 1907-1959
- Paintings (visual works) -- United States -- 20th Century
- Photographic prints -- United States -- 20th Century
- Photographs -- United States -- 20th Century
- Sage, Kay, 1898-1963
- Seligmann, Kurt, 1900-1962
- Surrealism -- France
- Surrealist artists
- Tanguy, Yves, 1900-1955
- World War, 1939-1945 -- France
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Refugees -- France
- Guide to the Kurt Seligmann Papers
- Under Revision
- by Beinecke staff
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
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