To create the spiraling, anthropomorphic figures seeing in Memnon and The Butterflies (1942), Kurt Seligmann traced patterns of cracked glass that he projected onto his canvas. He was inspired by the vast open terrain of the American Southwest and elements from European mythology to create what he described, as psychological, “cyclonic“ landscapes where “living being seem to detach themselves from torturous geological formations. A world in formation – not the heroic landscapes of prehistory, but rather a lyrical one.”
The year that he made this painting, Seligmann participated in the exhibition Artists in Exile at the Pierre Matisse Gallery, in New York, along with 14 of his fellow European modernists who fled Nazism, and moved to New York, including Andre Mason and Yves Tanguy.
Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum.