Mennon and Butterflies
The Swiss Surrealist Kurt Seligmann explored myth and whimsicality in this painting, where swirling, haunting forms constitute both figures within the landscape and the landscape itself. Mennon refers to a type of butterfly, as well as the father of the god Thor in Norse mythology. The vertical forms suggest the constant movement of a butterfly that, like the legendary Thor, covers many lands on its life journey.
Seligmann immigrated to the United States in 1939 to flee the threat of Nazism. He referred to his paintings, inspired by the vast, open terrain he encountered in the American Southwest, as “cyclonic landscapes.”
Oil on canvas
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Gift of The Beatrice and Samuel A. Seaver Foundation
© artist or artist's estate
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Kurt Seligmann (Swiss, 1900-1962). Mennon and Butterflies, 1942. Oil on canvas, 49 x 58 1/2 in. (124.5 x 148.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of The Beatrice and Samuel A. Seaver Foundation, 2004.30.19. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2004.30.19.jpg)
overall, 2004.30.19.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2005
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