This is a tale of discovery. In 1944 the Swiss Surrealist, Kurt Seligmann, (1900-1962) produced a suite of eleven remarkable drawings to illustrate poems by the American poet and photographer, Nat Herz, (1920-1964) for a lavish livre d'artiste which they planned called Impossible Landscapes. The project was not realized during their lifetimes. The drawings and poems were thought to be lost, but were discovered in 1997, along with Nat Herz's poems and Seligmann's maquette for the original book, by Barbara Singer, widow of Nat Herz. In 1997-1998, four of the drawings and two of Nat Herz's poems were exhibited in the Kurt Seligmann Retrospective at the Kunsthaus Zug, in Zug, Switzerland. In 1999 this collaboration became the centerpiece of an exhibition called Impossible Landscapes of the Mind, along with Nat Herz's Surrealist photographs, at the Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York.
Poems and Drawings Overview
Poem and Drawing 1: Suicide is Never Enough
Poem and Drawing 2: Domesticated Eagle
Poem and Drawing 3: The White Horse Mourns Within the Mind
The Impossible Landscapes of Nat Herz and Kurt Seligmann
This modern livre d'artiste, The Impossible Landscapes of Nat Herz and Kurt Seligmann, was edited and published by Barbara Singer, with her Introduction and scholarly essays by art historians Barbara J. Bloemink, Ph.D., and Stephen Robeson-Miller. It is currently in the collections of The New York Public Library, Getty Reserach Library, Chicago Art Institute, The Poetry Collection at Lockwood Library, SUNY, Buffalo, The Menil Collection, Victoria & Albert Museum, and elsewhere.
Beautifully conceived, written, and designed, this is truly a reader's delight, a collector's treasure.
Limited to one-hundred numbered copies, the edition is signed by the editor and essayists. It is designed by Jerry Kelly and printed on Arches paper at The Stinehour Press. The 64-page book, 6 x 9 inches, is hardbound with a slipcase and an extra suite of the eleven Seligmann drawings in a separate folder.
Price: $500 plus $7.50 shipping charges and local sales tax for delivery in the state of New York. Please call or e-mail Barbara Singer for international shipping charges.
This book is available for purchase from:
Jeff Hirsch Books
Barbara Singer Photography
Poems by Nat Herz and Surrealist Drawings by Kurt Seligmann
When Stuart Feld, Director of Hirschl & Adler Galleries, first saw the drawings, he exclaimed, "This is what collectors dream of!"
Suicide Is Never Enough
Grace Glueck, in her review of the exhibition in The New York Times, October 1, 1999, wrote:
The drawings-and-poetry collaboration between Seligmann and Herz of 1944 reflect the angst of World War II....the project provides an all too rare occasion for savoring Seligmann's graphic skills.
His skin was darker that night
Than the red moon, or the spots on the sun.
That night in the grove
The hair on his limbs bristled,
The pores rose swiftly,
The juice in his mouth ran cold.
He stood beside a granite urn:
Was it his blood that filled the shadows,
Flowing black, slowly filling the cracks,
Pouring out on the moss?
Were those his eyes in the branches:
Were the vines his hair, the grapes his lips?
The water in the lake was cold,
His heat would not warm it:
Nor were the fishes warm for him.
Those small waves were hardly solid.
The chilly weeds beneath were not taut.
The night was smooth in the lake,
Waiting among the lilies:
It was cautious of its worms and maggots,
Careful of its reddening moon,
Loving of its darksome, threatening trees,
Cherishing its dusky hours,
Its soulful timeless perplexity.
Through old halls,
With wide wings,
A golden eagle swooped.
The halls were familiar.
The dull air stirred to the beat of his wings,
Crumbling banisters felt the brush of his feathers.
Often in evening he remembered
The things of his former home:
The hard snow of the freezing peaks, the hot sunlight,
The massive rivers of ice beckoning in blue space,
The strong winds, chilling and delicious:
These were to him as objects to a lover.
On that white day over the flat glacier,
Near the farthest crags he had flown,
Watching the cold earth move beneath him:
Rocks and ice and fields of snow,
Were never so beloved before.
Now in a pleasant valley the old lawns gleam,
As he searches the hollows and shadowy glades for his food.
Grass caresses his claws
And ruined walls warm in the evening sun,
Waiting for him to find his solemn perch,
Near the broken doors of his home.
The White Horse Mourns Within the Mind
Behind the green eyes' level lies
The fathomless land:
Where no air is,
The white horse lifts its crusted lids,
The trees shake feverishly,
And the golden dogs groan.
Slowly he walks through the brush,
His black wings dragging;
Over the hills and soft fields once,
His hot heart straining,
The dark wings beating beneath
A sun that desired him.
Now, when he sleeps,
All the doors close,
The roof stiffens,
And the cold house waits.
The suite of eleven drawings as a whole and three single variants are available for purchase from Barbara Singer Photography. Please contact Barbara Singer for pricing information.