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Charles Seliger was born on June 3, 1926 in New York. Due to his parents’ divorce, he spent his childhood with his mother in Jersey City, New Jersey, often going to New York to visit museums and galleries. Despite not completing secondary school and not receiving a traditional artistic education, Seliger was passionate about art from an early age, practising and experimenting with diverse techniques and styles. At only sixteen years of age, he entered the Painters and Sculptors Society of New Jersey where he showed his work for the first time in 1942.In 1943, through his friendship with Jimmy Ernst, he was able to deepen his knowledge of Surrealism and abstract art and swiftly joined the circle of artists who gravitated around the figures of Howard Putzel and Peggy Guggenheim.
In 1945 he took part in the exhibition A Problem for Critics organized by Putzel at the 67 Gallery of New York, exhibiting alongside artists such as Picasso, Pollock, Gorky, Hofmann, Miró and Rothko. In November of the same year, Peggy Guggenheim organized her first solo exhibition in her gallery-museum Art of This Century in New York. This was a period in which the practice of automatism, typical of the surrealists, influenced him to create paintings populated with organic and biomorphic forms which resulted in personal, organic spaces. In the decades which followed, the artist continued to develop his practice of automatism, experimenting with various materials and techniques. He felt there was a necessity to translate through images the world’s fundamental forms or new scientific theories.
During the 1950’s his work was consistently shown at prestigious galleries, among which included the Willard Gallery of New York, enabling him to form friendships with Mark Tobey, Lyonel Feininger and Norman Lewis. In 1986 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, which now possessed the most comprehensive collection of his work, organized the first retrospective exhibition of the artist. Charles Seliger, who in 2003 was awarded the Lee Krasner Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, died in New York on October 1, 2009.