PRINT September 2015


Wallace Berman

Wallace Berman, Larkspur, CA, 1961.

WALLACE BERMAN (1926–1976) truly embodied the “mesh between poetry and music and visual arts” that San Francisco–based artist Bruce Conner once described as being at the root of the exuberant atmosphere of midcentury California. Berman was a pioneer of assemblage, perhaps best known for his systematic Verifax collages of a right hand clutching a transistor radio, its speaker replaced by various images appropriated from print media. Many of his other works manifested his interests in language and Jewish mysticism, with Hebrew letters painted on parchment and rocks. As a young man he had made firm connections in the jazz scene as well, designing a 1947 Charlie Parker album cover and collaborating on lyrics with blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon. And his influence was as vast as the range of his passions, not only in underground art and poetry circles but on the fringes of Hollywood

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