Migrants. Kurt Seligmann.


Migrants, by Kurt Seligmann(1900–1962), is paired with two pieces of music from the 21st century; which do you prefer, Kai Engel’s “Memories” or Bagatelle du Bayam Sellam de Nkololoun, by Archippe Yepmou?
We want to hear from you! Scroll down to Leave a Reply and let us know which pairing you prefer.

Migrants (ca. 1955) and “Memories” from Irsen’s Tale (2013).
This pairing and commentary are by Lauren King.

Click here for “Memories.”

Engel composed and produced this recording on a synthesizer.  The recording is available at Free Music Archive.

When viewed and listened to simultaneously, the painting Migrants, by Kurt Seligmann, and the musical composition “Memories”, by Kai Engel from the suite Irsen’s Tale, may evoke a strong emotional connection within the viewer and listener. Chaos erupts in the center of the canvas with the artist’s use of overlapping line, shape, and color while calm subtly rises from the empty landscape that surrounds the figures. This same relationship between chaos and calm can be heard in Engel’s music, when the calm, slow tones of the piano are slowly overshadowed by loud, chaotic percussion instruments. The juxtaposition of chaos and calm is intriguing, and it provokes imaginative interpretations of the narrative of the painting and how that narrative can be heard in the music.
To read Lauren’s complete essay comparing Migrants and “Memories” click here.

For a different experience listen to Bagatelle du Bayam Sellam de Nkololoun, performed by the twenty-first century composer Archippe Yepmou.

This pairing and commentary are by Alyson Walbridge.

Click here for Bagatelle du Bayam Sellam de Nkololoun

Imagine trekking through a world full of nothing, and a landscape that is as empty as your heart is now that you have left everything behind you. It’s all in the past, but your emotions are as present as ever. The repetitive sounds of your footsteps are the only thing you can hear, and they are a constant reminder of the pain and sorrow you feel.
But, what if you were a child? You would be sad that you had left your comfortable home, but you would be elated to be going on another big adventure. You happily skip along daydreaming about what the future will bring.

The contemporary classical piece Bagatelle du Bayam Sellam de Nkololoun reflects these contradictory scenes perfectly when paired with Kurt Seligmann’s Migrants. As you will see, these two pieces show how easily emotional conditions can change based simply on the age and knowledge of a person.

To read Alyson’s essay comparing Migrants and Bagatelle du Bayam Sellam de Nkololoun, click here.
A recording of Yepmou’s work is also available at MUSOPEN


11 thoughts on “Migrants. Kurt Seligmann.

  1. Deann Hacker says:

    Deann Hacker

    The colors used in Seligmann’s piece “Migrants” are cool colors. These colors invoke a solemn emotion and are further supported by seemingly melting and drooping forms. When pared with the work “Memories” from Irsen’s Tale it gives more gloomy feelings and matches extremely well with the piece. When looking at the painting before listening to “Memories” I felt a little creep out by the painting. You can clearly see forms of human like figures but cant exactly make them out. This is also a reason why I feel “Memories” is a great pair for this work of art. “Immaterial” by Neil Davidge also goes along with the piece. It has a creepy feel to it and becomes chaotic just as the painting is.

  2. Shelby Myers says:

    When first looking at the painting it reminded me of maybe pirate ghosts and pirates of the Caribbean. The first of music added to the eerie feeling of the lost souls. The second piece of music made me think of the rebels during the French Revolution and the marching of their feet. The music showed a sense of excitement and empowerment of taking over France. The theme song to pirates of the Caribbean or maybe “Do you hear the people sing” from Les Miserables could also be paired to this painting.
    Shelby Myers

  3. Stephen Sobek says:

    I felt like “Memories” was a good pairing with the piece. The music evoked a sense of trouble in the painting, yet provided an overall calming feeling. As the music evolved, my perception of the work did as well.

  4. Jacob Linn says:

    This piece of art is very appealing because of the lack of form of the figure. You can still make out arms and legs and vaguely human body parts. It’s just one blob. This possibly symbolizes how some people viewed immigrants to the United States in that time as all the same, even though they are different.
    The music that Lauren King chose goes with the art in a different way and makes it seem more sinister. The figure gains creepy qualities in place of the sad ones that were there without the music. It makes me think of a monster of some kind.
    Another piece of music that I think goes with with painting would be “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” by Queens of the Stone Age.

  5. Jeremiah Corbin says:

    As I saw Kurt Seligmann’s work of art for the first time it had a feeling of mystery along with the piece of music “Memories” that was paired with it. When you look at his work of art it’s difficult to decipher what all is happening among the figures because of the colors he chose to use along with the way he assembled them together. The piece of music sheds some light on the work of art, but continues to be mysterious all the way to the end and has you questioning the outcome of the people. The piece of music in my opinion was just as dark as the work of art.

  6. Julian Torres says:

    I think “Memories” from Irsen’s Tale fit this piece of art perfectly. The art and the music go hand in hand by giving you this feeling of an evil presence closing in. The art looks to me as if the lines and shapes that a jumbled together in the middle of the piece are demons of some sort, and the accompanying music evokes a sense of urgency out of you while viewing the painting that can truly be disturbing. i can not think of any other piece of music that could’ve fit this piece of art more perfectly.

  7. Noah Gilliom says:

    I believe that the pairing of “Migrants” and “Memories” is a very cohesive pairing. They both have that chaotic and jumbled up feel to them. At the beginning of ️memories you hear a duple to triple feel change and it creates a curiosity of where the piece is going. The same goes when you look at the canvas and see the people trying to figure out where they are going. In my mind they all appear to be point different directions. This is potentially problematic. I think another good pairing would be “We meet in Dreams” by Gothic Storm/Chris Haigh.

  8. Courtney Klug says:

    I really like the pairing of Migrants with Memories. I think Memories compliments Migrants very well because the piece of music is dark and tells a story of hardship and over coming of a difficult event in life. When I look at Migrants I see a story of immigrants moving to a new land and the hardships that come with doing that. The music has a dark minor feel and the painting has these bright colors but a lot of shadows and the painting is still very dark because even though they are bright colors they are not being showcased in the brightest way. This all goes back to the immigrant story, where the bright colors could resemble hope in the people traveling but the shadows and dark colors represent the difficult times.

  9. Rachel Harvey says:

    Looking at Migrants alone is a spooky experience, but the addition of listening to ” Memories” is bone chilling. The music enhances the feeling of baggage within the painting, dragging the subjects down, dragging in the dirt. It’s pretty much a perfect pairing, the music exposing more feeling than Migrants could alone, but not distracting from the painting

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