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Charles Seliger (1926-2009)


1 of 8

Biomorphic Series, Organic Form #12, 1944
india ink, earth and white tempera on manilla paper
14 3/4" x 11", signed and dated

Fragment of the Ice Age #2, 1948
tempera and ink on cardboard
5 1/2" x 7 3/4", signed and dated

Dead Locust, 1949
oil, pastel, ink, tempera, and watercolor on paperboard
10 3/4" x 14 1/4", signed and dated

Oak Leaves, 1950
watercolor, tempera and oil on board
15" x 21 3/4", signed and dated

Untitled, 1958
oil on canvas board
14" x 10", signed and dated

Untitled (Green Bird), 1966
acrylic on canvas
48" x 41", signed and dated

Earthscape, 2000
ink, acrylic gel and oil on gessoed board
5" x 7", signed and dated

Winter: 2008, 2008
acrylic, matte gel, prismacolor on gessoed board
6" x 6", signed and dated


Exhibitions


New & Noteworthy

Art in America Guide 2011

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Art in America, June/July 2010

by Stephanie Cash

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ArtNews, March 2010

by Mona Molarsky

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MRG PRESS RELEASE

Ways of Nature

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New York Times, May 5, 2006

by Ken Johnson

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The Brooklyn Rail, April 2006

by John Yau and Phong Bui

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MRG PRESS RELEASE

Charles Seliger: New Paintings

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Review Magazine, April 15, 1999

by Mark Daniel Cohen

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The New York Times, April 9, 1999

by Ken Johnson

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ArtNews, September 1994

by Olivia Douglas

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Art & Antiques, September 1992

by Johanna Garfield

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Christian Science Monitor, April 2, 1992

by Addison Parks

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Prints & Publications


Artist Information

"I attempt through my imagination, to make visible the structure of matter….I do not observe parts of nature under the microscope; I am not dissecting or analyzing. I have an emotional and intuitive awareness of nature."

-Charles Seliger

Born Charles Marvin Zekowski in New York City in 1926, Charles Seliger had a turbulent childhood during which he moved frequently due to the precarious finances of his divorced parents. In 1940, Charles and his mother, Hortense Seliger, moved to Jersey City, and Charles Zekowski took his mother’s surname, becoming Charles Seliger. While living in New Jersey, Seliger made frequent trips across the Hudson to see Manhattan’s many museum and gallery exhibitions, often with friend and artist Herman Zaage, who taught at the New School for Social Research. In 1941, Seliger moved to Baltimore, where his mother had found employment. Seliger learned how to hand-color and airbrush photographs, which earned him a job at a department store.

Although he never completed high school or received formal art training, Seliger immersed himself in the history of art and experimented with different painting styles including pointillism, cubism, and surrealism. In 1942, he participated in a group exhibition organized by the Painters and Sculptors Society of New Jersey. In 1943, Seliger befriended Jimmy Ernst and was quickly drawn into the circle of avant-garde artists championed by Howard Putzel and Peggy Guggenheim. Two years later, at the age of nineteen, Seliger was included in Putzel’s groundbreaking exhibition A Problem for Critics at 67 Gallery, and he also had his first solo exhibition, at Guggenheim’s legendary Art of This Century. Seliger became the youngest artist exhibiting with the abstract expressionists, and he was twenty years old when the Museum of Modern Art acquired his painting Natural History: Form within Rock (1946) for their permanent collection. In 1949, Seliger had his first major museum exhibition, at the De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, and a year later, he joined the stable of artists at the prestigious Willard Gallery, owned by Marian Willard. He formed close friendships with several of her other artists, including Mark Tobey, Lyonel Feininger, and Norman Lewis.

While Seliger was closely associated with abstract expressionism, he also challenged its parameters, as Francis O’Connor and Michelle DuBois have noted. Where abstract expressionists pursued the painted gesture on large canvases, the traces of Seliger’s presence came from the exquisite details of the infinitely vast worlds he created on small canvases—evidence of the patience, discipline, and imagination of their creator. Possessed of an expansive intellect and generous spirit, Seliger pursued an inner world of organic abstraction, celebrating the structural complexities of natural forms. Attracted to the internal structures of plants, insects, and other natural objects, and inspired by a wide range of literature in natural history, biology, and physics, Seliger paid homage to nature’s infinite variety in his abstractions. His paintings have been described as “microscopic views of the natural world,” and although the characterization is appropriate, his abstractions do not directly imitate nature so much as suggest its intrinsic structures.

In the 1970s, Seliger began cutting his canvases from the stretcher and applying gesso and acrylic washes before laboriously tracing lines with a fine ink brush. In the late 1970s, he began his “excavations”—a series of drawings using gesso, graphite, brushed paint, and a tjanting tool, which allowed him to apply hot wax to his works in a fine, controlled line. In the 1980s, Seliger began to work extensively on the Masonite paintings for which he became famous—as much for the processes he invented to achieve them as for the finished works. Building up layers of acrylic paint and often sanding or scraping each layer to create texture, Seliger would then delineate the forms embedded in the layers of pigment with a fine brush or pen. This labor-intensive technique resulted in ethereal paintings that give expression to aspects of nature hidden from or invisible to the unaided eye; they recall the automatism of surrealism as well as the importance of the accidental to abstract expressionism.

During his lifetime, Seliger exhibited in over forty-five solo shows at prominent galleries in New York and abroad. But it was not until 1986, that he was given his first retrospective, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which now holds the largest collection of his work. In 2003, at age seventy-seven, Seliger received the Pollock-Krasner Foundation’s Lee Krasner Award in recognition of his long and illustrious career in the arts. In 2005, the Morgan Library and Museum acquired his journals—148 hand-written volumes produced between 1952 and the present—making his introspective writing, which covers a vast range of topics across the span of six decades, accessible to art historians and scholars. His work is represented in numerous museum collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut; and the British Museum in London.

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC was the exclusive representative of Charles Seliger from 1990-2014, mounting ten solo exhibitions and publishing eight catalogues for the artist.

 

 

SELECTED MUSEUM COLLECTIONS:

Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA
Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
The British Museum, London, England
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC
Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
Jacksonville Art Museum, Jacksonville, FL
Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS
Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL
MOCA Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL
Municipal Art Museum, The Hague, Holland
Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, NY
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State College of New York, Purchase, NY
The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
The New York Public Library, New York, NY
Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL
Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Ogunquit, ME
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC,
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe, Germany
Sunrise Art Museum, Charleston, WV
Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, IL
University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IA
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA

2003     
Lee Krasner Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation

1945 
Charles Seliger: First Exhibition, Art of This Century, New York, NY

1946
Charles Seliger, Art of This Century, New York, NY

1947
Scarfs by Seliger: Hand Printed Silk, Alexander Gerard Gallery, Gross Pointe, MI

1948
Charles Seliger: Recent Paintings and Drawings, Carlebach Gallery, New York, NY
Paintings and Drawings of Charles Seliger, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA

1949 
Carlebach Gallery, New York, NY
Drawings and Watercolors by Charles Seliger, Research Studio, Maitland, FL
The Magic of Line, Art Center School, Los Angeles, CA

1951 
Charles Seliger, Willard Gallery, New York, NY

1953
Charles Seliger, Willard Gallery, New York, NY

1954
Charles Seliger, Mount Vernon Art Center, Mt. Vernon, NY

1955
Charles Seliger, Willard Gallery, New York, NY; Otto Seligman Gallery, Seattle, WA

1957
Charles Seliger: Oils, Temperas and Watercolors, Willard Gallery, New York, NY

1958 
Paintings and Drawings by Charles Seliger, Otto Seligman Gallery, Seattle, WA

1959
Charles Seliger: Exhibition of Paintings, Willard Gallery, New York, NY

1961
Charles Seliger, Willard Gallery, New York, NY

1962
Charles Seliger: Exhibition of Recent Oil Paintings, Willard Gallery, New York, NY

1963
Charles Seliger, Otto Seligman Gallery, Seattle, WA

1965
Charles Seliger: Paintings and Drawings, Otto Seligman Gallery, Seattle, WA

1966 
Charles Seliger, Willard Gallery, New York, NY
Charles Seliger, Nassau Community College, Garden City, NY

1967
Charles Seliger, Otto Seligman Gallery, Seattle, WA

1968 
Charles Seliger, Willard Gallery, New York, NY

1969 
Seliger: Paintings and Drawings, The Wooster School, Danbury, CT

1974
Charles Seliger: Eidólons, 1973-74, Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NY

1976 
Charles Seliger: Small Works on Canvas, 1970-76, les Copains Art Ltd., Buffalo, NY
Charles Seliger: Recent Paintings, Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NY

1978
Charles Seliger: Aeons, Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NY
Charles Seliger: Recent Drawings, Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NY

1979 
Charles Seliger, Makler Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

1980
Seasons: A Selection of Small Paintings 1979-1980, Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NY

1981 
Charles Seliger: Intimate Abstractions, Frances Wolfson Art Gallery, Miami-Dade Community College, Miami, FL; Jacksonville Art Museum, Jacksonville, FL
Charles Seliger: Origins, Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NY

1983
Charles Seliger: Ways of Nature, Recent Paintings, Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NY

1985
Charles Seliger: Eighteen Paintings, Gallery Schlesinger-Boisanté, New York, NY

1986 
Charles Seliger: Paintings and Works on Paper, 1949-1985, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Charles Seliger, Galerie Lopes, Zurich, Switzerland
Charles Seliger: Recent Paintings, Watercolors, Monotypes, Gallery Schlesinger-Boisanté, New York, NY

1987
Charles Seliger: Recent Paintings, Watercolors, Monotypes, Gallery Schlesinger-Boisanté, New York, NY

1989
Charles Seliger: Paintings and Works on Paper, Galerie Lopes, Zurich, Switzerland

1990
Charles Seliger, Saidenberg Gallery, New York, NY
Charles Seliger, Galerie Lopes, Zurich, Switzerland

1991
Charles Seliger: Undercurrents, Watercolors, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1992
Charles Seliger: Infinities, Recent Paintings, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1994
Charles Seliger:  Natures Journal - Recent Paintings and Gouaches, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1995 
Charles Seliger: The 1940s & 1990s, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1997
Charles Seliger: Biomorphic Drawings, 1944-1947, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1999
Charles Seliger: The Nascent Image, Recent Paintings, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2003
Charles Seliger: Chaos to Complexity, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Charles Seliger: Sixty Years of Abstraction, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC

2006
Charles Seliger:  New Paintings, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2008
Charles Seliger: Ways of Nature, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2010
Charles Seliger (1926-2009): A Memorial Exhibition, A Retrospective of Paintings, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery,        New York, NY

2012
Seeing the World Within: Charles Seliger in the 1940s, The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Munson-Williams Proctor Art Institute, Utica, NY

1943
Adventures in Perspective, Norlyst Gallery, New York, NY

1944
Captured Light: Experimental Paintings and Photography, Norlyst Gallery, New York, NY
Painters and Sculptors Society of New Jersey, Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ
40 American Moderns, 67 Gallery, New York, NY

1945
Personal Statement: A Painting Prophecy, The David Porter Gallery, Washington, DC; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; City Art Museum, St. Louis, MO; San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA; The Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY
A Problem for Critics, 67 Gallery, New York, NY
Autumn Salon, Art of This Century, New York, NY

1946
Abstract and Expressionist Painting, Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, FL
Fifth Biennial, Contemporary American Paintings, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Five Young Americans, Art of This Century, New York, NY
Second Annual Contemporary Art, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IO

1947
Surrealist American Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Third Annual Contemporary Art, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

1948
Realities Nouvelles, Salon des Realites Nouvelles, Paris, France
New American Painters, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Annual Contemporary American Paintings, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; 1949, 51-58, 60
New Acquisitions, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

1949
24th Venice Biennial, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy
15th Biennial International Watercolor Exhibition, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; 1951, 57, 59

1950
American Painting 1950, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
American Painting and Sculpture, The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Spiral Group, Riverside Museum, New York, NY
Barnyard Zoo, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD

1951
Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Annual American Exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; 1955, 61, 62, 64
Young Painters USA, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Drawings, Willard Gallery, New York, NY

1952
Contemporary Drawings from Twelve Countries, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Painter’s Choice, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
Contemporary New Jersey Artists, The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Land, Sea and Air, The Children’s Museum of Denver, Denver, CO

1953
Abstract Painting in America, Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, Syracuse, NY
63rd Annual Exhibition, Nebraska Art Association, Lincoln, NB

1954
American Painting 1954, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
American Painting 1954, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA

1955
Contemporary American and European Paintings, Columbus Museum of Fine Arts, Columbus, OH
Pittsburgh International, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA
Contemporary American and European Paintings, John Herron Art Museum, Indianapolis, IN

1956
Recent Accessions, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT

1957
New York Artists 6th Annual Exhibition, Stable Gallery, New York, NY
L’Arte Grafica Contemporanea, Stati Uniti, Gallerie Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome, Italy
Twentieth Century American Graphic Arts, United States Information Agency (traveled)
Edward Wales Root, An American Collector, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, NY; Addison Gallery of  American Art, Andover, MA; University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MI

1958
75th Annual Exhibition, Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME
The New Landscape in Art and Science, The American Federation of the Arts, New York, NY
3rd Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Painting, Dupont Galleries, Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia, Fredericksburg, VA

1959
Contemporary American Watercolors, John Herron Art Museum, Indianapolis, IN
National Drawing Competition, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
4th Exhibition of Modern Art, Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia, Fredericksburg, VA
Selected Drawings from National Drawing Competition, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, DeCordova and Dana Museum, Lincoln, MA

1960
The Importance of the Small Painting, The Nordness Gallery, New York, NY

1961
The Quest and the Quarry, Rome-New York Art Foundation, Rome, Italy
Ninth Annual Exhibition, Ogunquit Museum of Art, Ogunquit, ME
Sixth Exhibition of Modern Art, Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia, Fredericksburg, VA

1962
157th Annual Exhibition of American Painting and Sculpture, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Edward R. Root Bequest, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, NY
Three Painters: Ida Kohlmeyer, J.J. Tharrats, Charles Seliger, Haydon Calhoun Galleries, Dallas, TX
New Accessions USA, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO

1963
Art for American Embassies, Department of State, Washington, DC
Contemporary Masters Drawings and Prints, Providence Art Club, Providence, RI

1964
Watercolors and Drawings, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, NY

1965
Contemporary American Paintings and Sculpture, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
10th Exhibition of Modern Art, Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia, Fredericksburg, VA

1966 
Selections from the Permanent Collection, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Drawings USA ’66, 3rd Biennial Exhibition, Saint Paul Art Center, MN
Childe Hassam and Eugene Speicher Purchase Fund Exhibition, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY

1967
XXII American Drawing Biennial, Norfolk Museum of Fine Arts and Sciences, Norfolk, VA

1968
The Art of the Organic Forms, National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Childe Hassam and Eugene Speicher Purchase Fund Exhibition, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY

1970
Miniaturan ’70 International, Galerie 66 HG, Hofheim, West Germany
Art for Peace, Laguardia Place, New York, NY

1975
20th Century American Painting and Sculpture, Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NY

1976
20th Century American Masters, Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NY
Watercolors: Historical and Contemporary, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY

1977
This Is Today: An Exhibition of Works by Living Artists, Root Center, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY
Members’ Gallery, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Recent Acquisitions, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY

1979
Works on Paper, USA, Rockland Center for the Arts, West Nyack, NY

1981
New York Gallery Showcase, Oklahoma Art Center, Oklahoma, OK
Contemporary American Landscape, Taft Museum, Cincinnati, OH
Bouquet, Summit Art Center, Summit, NJ

1982
Solitude, Inner Visions in American Art, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, IL
Drawings by Picasso and Paul Klee, Abstractions by Charles Seliger, Saidenberg Gallery, New York, NY
The Spirit of Paper: 20th Century American, Frances Wolfson Art Gallery, Miami, FL
Lowell Nesbitt, Charles Seliger, Douglas Abdell, Tirca Karlis Gallery, Provincetown, MA
Picasso, Klee, Seliger and others, Saidenberg Gallery, New York, NY

1986
50th Anniversary Exhibition in Memory of Marian Willard Johnson, Willard Gallery, New York, NY

1987 
Peggy Guggenheim's Other Legacy, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy
Le Eredita Sconosciute Di Peggy Guggenheim, Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, Venice, Italy
Nature Into Art, Artists in Depth, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, NY
Watercolor Now! Paintings by Linda Chapman, Richard Frank, Juan Pastorelli, Charles Seliger, Frances Wolfson Art Gallery, Miami-Dade Community College, Miami, FL
Visions of Inner Space: Gestural Painting in Modern American Art, Wright Art Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles, CA; National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India
Inaugural Exhibition, Sid Deutsch Gallery, New York, NY

1989
Abstract Expressionism, Other Dimensions, Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL; Terra Museum of American Art,  Chicago, IL; Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New    Brunswick, NJ; Whitney Museum of American Art, Philip Morris Branch, New York, NY
Late 19th and 20th Century American Masters, Sid Deutsch Gallery, New York, NY
Art on Paper 1989, Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC
Works on Paper, Sid Deutsch Gallery, New York, NY
Gyorgy Kepes, Herbert Bayer, Charles Seliger: Paintings and Works on Paper, Saidenberg Gallery, New York, NY

1990
Watercolors from the Abstract Expressionist Era, Katonah Art Museum, Katonah, NY
An Artist’s Christmas, Holiday Images of American Artists 1880-1990, Midtown Payson Galleries, New York, NY

1991
Watercolor Across the Ages, Bristol-Myers Squibb Gallery, Princeton, NJ
Nature’s Rhythm, Snyder Fine Art, New York, NY
Stamens and Pistils: Interpreting the Flower 1790-1990, Louis Stern Galleries, Beverly Hills, CA

1992 
Theme & Improvisation: Kandinsky and the American Avant-Garde, 1912-1950, Terra Museum of American Art,  Chicago, IL; The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX;  Dayton  Art Institute, Dayton, OH

1993
Expression Abstracted: 35 Memory Portraits, Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Lines & Myths: Abstraction in American Art, 1941-51, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Aspects of American Abstraction, 1930-42, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1994
On Paper: Abstraction in America, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1995 
Collage: Made in America, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Exploring the Unknown: Surrealism in American Art, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
A Twentieth Century Survey of American Watercolor, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, PA 
Surrealism in Exile, La Maison Francaise, New York University, New York, NY

1997
Surrealism and American Art 1932-1949, The Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL

1998
The Surrealist Vision: Europe and the Americas, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT
Original Scale, Apex Art C.P., New York, NY
Essence of the Orb, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Peggy Guggenheim's Years in Venice: A Centennial Celebration, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY

1999
Surrealism in America During the 1930s and 1940s: Selections from the Penny and Elton Yasuna Collection,  Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, FL
The Surrealists in Exile and the Origin of the New York School, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Musées d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg, Germany
Severed Ear: The Poetry of Abstraction, The Creiger-Dane Gallery, Boston, MA
Paper Invitational II, Woodward Gallery, New York, NY
Linear Impulse, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Calm and Commotion: Abstract Art from the Permanent Collection, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS
Impossible Landscapes of the Mind, Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, NY

2000
Bug Out, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery: The First Decade, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2001
Jazz and Visual Improvisation, Katonah Art Museum, Katonah, NY
Flora: In Reverence of Nature, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Paper Assets: Collecting Prints and Drawings, 1996-2000, The British Museum, London, England
Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY;
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN; Phoenix Art  Museum, Phoenix, AZ
1950-65: Abstraction on Paper, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2002
Transitions at Mid-Century, Works on Paper 1945-1955, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

2003
On Paper: Masterworks from the Addison Collection, Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA
The Art of Organic Forms, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Graphic Masters: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Heckscher Museum of Art,
Huntington, NY; Palmer Museum of Art, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA; Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN; Plains Art Museum, Fargo, ND
Peggy and Kiesler: The Collection and the Visionary, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy
The 1940s: Modern American Art & Design, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
In Sequence, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Surrealism & Modernism from the Collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth,  TX; The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

2004
Endless Love, DC Moore Gallery, New York, NY

2005
Surrealism USA, National Academy Museum, New York, NY; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Organic New York, 1941-1949, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Dalí, Picasso and the Surrealist Vision, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

2006
American Modernism on Paper, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Pre–Post, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York, NY
Picasso to Pop: Aspects of Modern Art, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

2007
Sixties!, Municipal Art Museum, The Hague, Holland
Pathways and Parallels: Roads to Abstract Expressionism, Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, NY
Shining Spirit: Westheimer Family Collection, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK
Auspicious Vision: Edward Wales Root & American Art, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, NY
Surrealism: Dreams on Canvas, Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, NY

2008
Abstract Expressionism: A World Elsewhere, Haunch of Venison, New York, NY
Peggy Guggenheim and the New American Painting, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Vercelli, Italy
Beyond the Canon: Small-Scale American Abstraction, 1945-1965, Robert Miller Gallery, New York, NY
Repartir à Zéro, 1945-1949 (Starting  from Scratch), Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon, France

2009
Abstract Expressionism: Further Evidence (Part I: Painting), Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
New at the Morgan: Acquisitions since 2004, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY
Surrealisms, Bow Street Gallery, Cambridge, MA
Bilderträume. Die Sammlung Ulla und Heiner Pietzsch (Picture Dreams: The Collection Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany
Graphic Masters II: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Permanent Collection Exhibition, Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL

2010
Unconscious Unbound: Surrealism in America, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
Selections from the Permanent Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

2011
The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY
Wing, Tuttle, Seliger, Smith, Bow Street Gallery, Cambridge, MA
Evolution in Action, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

2012
Prendergast to Pollock: American Modernism from the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Naples Museum of Art,
Naples, FL
Signs and Symbols, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Abstract Drawings, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
INsite/INchelsea: The Inaugural Exhibition, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

2013
Abstract Expressionism / In Context: Seymour Lipton, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY
New Forms:  The Avant-Garde Meets the American Scene, 1934-1949, University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IA
(M)other Natures: Natural History in Contemporary Art, Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY

2014
Artist's Artists: James Siena, Josh Smith, and Charline von Heyl Collect Prints, International Print Center, New York, NY

 

Recent Tributes to Charles Seliger (June 3, 1926 - October 1, 2009):

"...Charles Seliger was an artist and a painter all his life. It was his life. It was not a parade, and he did not parade like so many artists. Nor was it an act of struggle or rebellion. It was so much a part of his life that he was happy to share it with the life around him. He had a family. He had a job! And he painted. He was not a bohemian. He was an artist. Artist as poet, explorer, gardener, astronomer, composer, and botanist. Artist as painter.

Charles Seliger was not like other artists. He worked differently. For this reason not everyone gets him. He could easily be considered one of the great painters of our time; that is, if like I said, everyone got him. I have probably written about Charles more than anyone, and I only just figured this out. After he died! Like any artist he loved hearing someone speak intelligently about his work. He would have really loved this.

Charles Seliger was in many ways a paradox. I've known a lot of artists who worked really hard to cultivate some mysterious and enigmatic persona; he did not. Never mind that he lived in the burbs, worked for a corporation, had a family, was incredibly well read and capable in any number of areas. He was absolutely unique and unusual as an artist..."

- Addison Parks
Art Deal Magazine, November 2009
read full text here:
http://artdealmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/11/charles-seliger.html

"...The issue of the scale of Charles’s work must be addressed head on. He famously stated that he wanted to “tear the skin from life, and peering closely, paint what I see”. To do so, he had to pull the viewer into a world smaller than herself, into a simulacrum of the subatomic, into the visceral, into what he called “articulated space”. His rejection of the use of physically large formats precisely enabled him to achieve a vastness of near infinite proportions. From his paintings inspired by insects (perversely larger than the usual size in his canon) to his rhapsodic late works that speak to the condition of inchoate states of matter, it’s been about “peering closely”. He once told me, regarding his dedication to his unique working methods and images and in answer to any rhetorical question about concentrating one’s efforts: “I’m digging straight down.” That’s where he knew he would find all the territory he would ever need.

I wish he were still digging right now. He’s left us too soon. I miss him so much already, and it’s only begun."

- James Siena
The Brooklyn Rail, November 2009
read full text here:
http://www.brooklynrail.org/2009/11/art/a-tribute-to-charles-seliger-1926-2009

"I only met Charles Seliger on one occasion. It happened in the afternoon at the Rosenfeld Gallery during his exhibition, maybe four years ago. He was a kind, gentle, and generous man, full of spirit and a precision of insight. Our conversation was filled with a warmth as if we had known each other for many years. I was surprised to discover that he had read my criticism.

The works in the exhibition were utterly personal and without pretension. I admired the intimacy of scale in Seliger's work, and found it an antidote to the notion that abstract expressionism is defined according to scale.  The expressive content in his work mattered -- both as material and as a quest for something real, a transcendence moving through the interstices of worldly immanence.  I understand that his forms  evolve spontaneously over time and literally became the surface.  The surface in Seliger's paintings carries the remnants of a process that will eventually evolve towards an all-over lightness. Often the layering of color within this process goes beyond description.  If is as if to say that space does not exist unless it is created.  Indeed, Seliger created a marvelous, rhythmic, indulgent, yet levitating space.

This kind of action in art not only defines the artist, but further defines the rarefied sense of being within a culture -- the human trace that belongs both somewhere and elsewhere. Seliger was possessed with the gift to understand art as a reality capable of transmission. His art is always on the verge of sending a message -- that energy and benevolence co-exist in the inner-depths, somewhere at the crossover point between the human heart and mind."    

- Robert C. Morgan
October 4, 2009
http://www.brooklynrail.org/2009/11/art/a-tribute-to-charles-seliger-1926-2009

"My dear friend, the artist Charles Seliger, died on October 1st of a stroke at the age of 83. He was the last artistically active link to the Abstract Expressionist generation of artists who emerged in the 1940s, and an extraordinary person. He was the subject of my last book — which is mentioned elsewhere on this website — and in which you can find the details of his career.

I learned of Charles’s death while watching on PBS the fifth episode of Ken Burn’s “Our National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” — a rather tedious trek through the parks’ history that made me think on several occasions of Charles, his love of nature, his life-long expression of that love in his work, and his sharp, critical sensibility. I was looking forward to talking to him about the series when it was over.

The talking heads narrating Burn’s documentary — the best part of which were the splendid views of our continent’s natural wonders — struggled to express why Nature was important and why it is so affecting. From the eloquent spirituality of John Muir’s politically effective rhetoric to the practical virtues of middle-class recreation, nothing was said that rose much above the commonplace. Yes, the Grand Canyon is awesome; a stand of redwoods is cathedral-like; experiencing volcanic phenomena at Yellowstone is good for the soul, visiting a national park is like “coming home,” etc. Indeed, Burns managed by default to teach us that encountering Nature’s numinosity cannot be verbalized — only experienced.

Charles, the most erudite of the artists of his generation, knew this. When I first got to know him and his very small paintings, I was amazed by the extent of his awareness of literature, natural history and science. Indeed, I first learned about fractal theory from him, and was fascinated by this window into identifying and explaining the fundamental structures of nature — invisible to the eye but available to the mind — in all their varieties of replication.

Charles employed such knowledge intuitively, and in his nanoworld of imagery, emphasized Nature’s processes rather than its appearances. He understood that it was the essentially invisible activities in genetics, germination, cell division, flow patterns, skeletal structures, erosion, time’s patience and the varieties of scale’s message — not to mention the hard paradoxes of wildness — that matter most in our experience of Nature.

Charles found ways to help us to experience these imperceptible, numinous events with paint on a few square inches of surface. For him, finding a smaller brush or a device that made a tinier dot, was an event. In doing so, he left us a concentrated legacy of what is sublime in Nature — and how our awareness of the invisible in the visible can let us share in its confirming, vital presence.

When a young man dies, we mourn curtailed potential; when an old man like Charles dies at 83, especially a great artist who was painting up to the end, we can only rejoice in such a life. This is the time to be sad for ourselves at such a loss; but he has left us all good reason to be happy with the lifetime of numinous art that survives him.

- Francis V. O’Connor
October 3, 2009
http://www.fvoconnorsbooks.com/go_to__blog_77042.htm

"On Wednesday evening, Abstract Expressionist painter Charles Seliger was standing next to me at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, talking about how much he loved old books and the used bookstores that had once lined Fourth Avenue on the Lower East Side. He looked very elegant, in a jacket and bow-tie, and he spoke with an enthusiasm that belied his 83 years....

...Seliger is best-known for his small, elaborately detailed panels, covered with biomorphic forms, painted in luminous acrylic colors. Some look like a biologist’s take on Rube Goldberg contraptions, others like nebula or slides covered with paramecium. The works have names like “ Cellular Mansion,” “Suction, the Epicurian” and “Aquarium”...

...Seliger’s affinity for science and organic forms seems part and parcel with his love of books and learning. A high school dropout, who ended up being more well-read than many college graduates, he spent much of his life reading omnivorously on a broad range of subjects: art, history, science, literature.

“Once, when I was in one of those used bookshops, I found a book by the writer William Dean Howells,” Seliger told me on Wednesday evening. “When I got the book home, I noticed there was an inscription inside. It said, ‘To my dear sister.’ And it was signed by Howells.”

He smiled at the memory, still relishing the thought that he had ended up with the very special, personalized volume.

I had never met Seliger before, but on Wednesday evening, as art lovers sipped wine and circled around, I was immediately charmed by the octogenarian painter’s warmth and humor. When I headed home, the image of his broad smile and crinkly eyes stayed with me for the rest of the evening. There was something at once inspiring and comforting about his presence."

- Mona Molarsky
October 1, 2009
read full text here:
http://www.examiner.com/x-907-NY-City-Life-Examiner~y2009m10d4-Seliger