Photographs and Other Works of Art: 1959-1976
November 30, 2007 – January 19, 2008
Michael Kohn Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of photographs, sculptures, drawings, and collages by quintessential American artist, Wallace Berman. A crucial figure in post-war California art, Berman is known for his series of poetic and sepia-toned Verifax collages that articulated the voices of poets, musicians, and visual artists from America’s underground Beat generation.
On view is a series of personal photographs that Berman took between 1950 and 1976.
Documenting his inner circle of friends and family, Berman idealizes the lifestyles of his
counterparts and the social revolutionaries who pioneered the American counter-culture known as the “Beat generation.” Artists and visionaries such as Jay DeFeo, Jack Smith, George Herms, Cameron, and Walter Hopps, among many others, inhabit beautiful and sparsely populated landscapes in Big Sur, Corte Madera Marsh, and the quaint town of Healdsburg, located in the Sonoma Valley.
Also on view are various sculptures, drawings, and collages. In 1964, Berman began working on his best-known body of work, a series of collages made with the Verifax press machine (an early photocopy machine prototype). These collages, culled from newspaper and magazine articles, combines hand-drawn Hebrew characters and Kabbalah references with identifiable pop culture images. Also included in the exhibition is one of Berman’s signature sculptures, Homage to Herman Hesse (1949, 1954), which was included in Berman’s legendary solo exhibition at Feras Gallery in 1957. Homage to Herman Hesse is an abstract, geometric sculpture resemling a gameboard—a reference to Hesse’s idea that all knowledge can be reduced to a single scientific principle from his book, Magister Ludi (The Glass Bead Game).
Wallace Berman was born in Staten Island, New York. In 1926 he died in an automobile
accident in Topanga Canyon in 1976 at the age of 50. He has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in California. Berman is also known for establishing a collaborative, hand-made, limited edition magazine called Semina. It has since become an iconic document chronicling cultural movements of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and the voices of the Beat generation’s most innovative and influential thinkers such as Antonin Artaud, Charles Brittin, Charles Bukowski, William S. Burroughs, Jean Cocteau, Allen Ginsberg, Walter Hopps, Larry Jordan, Michael McClure, and John Wieners.