The Swiss-American Surrealist artist and scholar Kurt Seligmann (1900-1962) and the Japanese artist and writer Taro Okamoto (1911-1996), became close friends when they both lived in Paris in the 1930s and associated with the Abstraction-Création and the Surrealist movements. While their lives seem to take on distinct trajectories, upon closer look startling parallels and interconnections can be found and deserve further examination than previously afforded. These include their creation of personal mythologies and embrace of magic to counteract the unsettling experience brought about by the Second World War, as they sought for new ways to reshape society in poetic and spiritual terms. I will discuss their friendship and trace such parallels in my talk.
About the speaker
Gražina Subelytė is Assistant Curator at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, where she is co-curating the large-scale exhibition Surrealism and Magic. From Max Ernst to Leonora Carrington (2021). She is a PhD Candidate at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, researching the work of Kurt Seligmann. She has recently written the preface to a new collector’s edition of Seligmann’s book The Mirror of Magic. A History of Magic in the Western World and she is collaborating with the Taro Okamoto Museum of Art in Japan on its upcoming exhibition on Seligmann and Okamoto (2021).
Part of the 2019/20 History of Art Research Seminar Series