Herms, George, 1935-

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George Herms, California artist, musician, and poet, was one of the founders of the West Coast assemblage movement.

From the description of George Herms papers, 1890-2009 ( bulk 1960-2000) (Getty Research Institute). WorldCat record id: 668457005

Herms, George, 1935, Assemblage and collage artist of Los Angeles and San Francisco, Calif.

Central participant in the West Coast Beat culture.

From the description of Oral history interview with George Herms 1993 Dec. 8, 10, 13-1994 Mar 10. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 646400317

Assemblage and collage artist; Los Angeles and San Francisco, Calif.

Central participant in the West Coast Beat culture.

From the description of George Herms interviews, 1993 Dec. 8, 10, 13 - 1994 Mar 10. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 220208089

Biographical/Historical Note

The son of an agronomist, George Herms was born in Woodland, CA in 1935. While studying engineering at the University of California at Berkeley in 1953, Herms became fascinated with jazz and literature. He left school in 1954 and moved to Los Angeles, where he found a job as a tabulation operator for Douglas Aircraft and spent evenings in jazz clubs. In 1955, he met the Beat poet Robert Alexander and the assemblage artist Wallace Berman, and over the next two years solidified friendships with them, and also with Dean Stockwell, David Meltzer, and other artists and poets. He also helped Shirley and Wallace Berman assemble the hand-printed, personally distributed literary journal Semina . Soon Herms bought his own small hand-press and began printing poems, an activity that would become a lifetime enterprise known as Love Press. He also began to make assemblage collages out of machine parts, punch-card detritus, and beach trash. In 1957, he brought his assemblages together in a vacant lot for Secret Exhibition, a self-curated, solo show viewed only by Wallace Berman and John Reed, that was allowed to decompose in place after the show's end.

In 1960, Herms lived with his wife and daughter on a houseboat in Larkspur California, next to the Bermans' houseboat and to a houseboat that served as the Semina gallery. Herms showed his work at Semina and at Batman Gallery in San Francisco, where he displayed his first tableaux in 1961, including The Meat Market, made from meat stickers and refuse from the local dump. He also created The Poet, which was shown in the landmark 1961 Museum of Modern Art exhibition The Art of Assemblage. Since then, Herms' reputation as one of the foremost assemblage artists in America has steadily grown.

In 1965 Herms moved to Topanga Canyon near Los Angeles, and since then has lived mostly in Southern California, except for two years in Rome where he was a fellow at the American Academy. Due to multiple marriages, and perennial poverty, he has been evicted or forced to change residences countless times. In response to these crises, he developed a recurrent performance art series in which he auctioned off belongings to friends at a party and raffle that he called Tap City Circus.

A retrospective of his work curated by Walter Hopps, George Herms: Hot Set, was held at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 2005. Herms figured prominently in another exhibition, Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and his Circle, held at the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the Berkeley Art Museum in 2008.

From the guide to the George Herms papers, 1890-2009, (The Getty Research Institute Special Collections Research Library 1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100 Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688 (310) 440-7390)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Getty Research Institute. Recordings of Modern art in Los Angeles [multimedia] : the Beat years, 2003 November 17 - 19. Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Alexander, Robert, 1923-1987. Robert Alexander papers, 1960-1987. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Jess papers, 1941-2004, 1962-1997 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Getty Research Institute. Modern art in Los Angeles [videorecording] : George Herms films, 2004. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Jordan, Larry, 1934-. Oral history interview with Larry Jordan, 1995 Dec. 19 - 1996 July 30. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Getty Research Institute. Modern art in Los Angeles [videorecording] : George Herms oral history, 2009. Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Getty Research Institute. Modern art in Los Angeles [videorecording] : George Herms oral history, 2004. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Rolf Nelson Gallery records, 1953-1973 The Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Getty Research Institute. Recordings of Edmund Teske's Los Angeles, 2004. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Jordan, Patricia M., 1937-1989. Patricia Jordan papers, 1955-1977. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Aya, 1932-. Aya Tarlow papers, 1954-2002. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Herms, George, 1935-. George Herms papers, 1890-2009 ( bulk 1960-2000) Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Wallace Berman, 1907-1979 (bulk 1955-1979) Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Edmund Teske papers, 1933-1996 Getty Research Institute
creatorOf George Herms papers, 1890-2009 Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Brown, Joan, 1938-1990,. Oral history interview with Joan Brown, 1975 July 1-Sept. 9 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Teske, Edmund, 1911-1996. Edmund Teske papers, 1933-1996. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976. Wallace Berman papers, 1907-1979 (bulk 1955-1979). Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Asher, Betty. Betty Asher papers, 1860-1999. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Hal Glicksman papers, 1927-2010 The Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Rolf Nelson Gallery. Rolf Nelson Gallery records, 1953-1973. Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Getty Research Institute. Contemporary Programs and Research. Côte à côte : coast to coast: art and jazz in France and California recordings, photographs, and ephemera, 2007 Nov. 13-15. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Betty Asher papers, 1860-1999 The Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Herms, George, 1935-. Oral history interview with George Herms 1993 Dec. 8, 10, 13-1994 Mar 10. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Solnit, Rebecca. Interviews for the book Secret exhibition [sound recording]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Reed, Marcia, 1945-. Artists & archives : a Pacific Standard Time Symposium [videorecording] / [symposium organized by the Getty Research Institute in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art.]. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Glicksman, Hal, 1937-. Hal Glicksman papers, circa 1927-2010. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Brown, Joan, 1938-1990. Joan Brown interviews, 1975 July 1-Sept. 9. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Brittin, Charles, 1928-. Charles Brittin papers, 1914-2004, bulk 1950-1975. Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Herms, George, 1935-. George Herms interviews, 1993 Dec. 8, 10, 13 - 1994 Mar 10. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn William J. Eisenlord photographs, 1953-1976 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Charles Brittin papers, 1914-2004 (bulk 1950-1975) Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Jess, 1923-2004. Jess papers, 1941-2004 (bulk 1962-1997). UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Alexander, Bob, 1923-1987. Bob Alexander papers, 1960-1987. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Leonardi, Joe,. George Herms [videorecording] / produced by Joseph Leonardi. Getty Research Institute
creatorOf HERMS, GEORGE. Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
referencedIn Aya Tarlow Papers, 1954-2002 Bancroft Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alexander, Bob, 1923-1987. person
associatedWith Alexander, Robert person
associatedWith Alexander, Robert, 1923-1987. person
associatedWith American Academy in Rome. corporateBody
associatedWith Asher, Betty. person
correspondedWith Aya, 1932- person
associatedWith Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976. person
associatedWith Brittin, Charles, 1928- person
associatedWith Brown, Joan, 1938-1990, person
associatedWith Di Prima, Diane. person
associatedWith Dwan, Virginia. person
associatedWith Eisenlord, William J. person
associatedWith Fee, James person
associatedWith Fee, James. person
associatedWith Ferus Gallery (Los Angeles, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Getty Research Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Getty Research Institute. Contemporary Programs and Research. corporateBody
associatedWith Glicksman, Hal person
associatedWith Glicksman, Hal, 1937- person
associatedWith Hirschman, Jack, 1933. person
associatedWith Hopps, Walter. person
associatedWith Jess, 1923-2004. person
associatedWith Jordan, Larry, 1934- person
associatedWith Jordan, Patricia M., 1937-1989. person
associatedWith Karlstrom, Paul J. person
associatedWith Kienholz, Edward, 1927- person
associatedWith Lamantia, Philip, 1927- person
associatedWith Love Press. corporateBody
associatedWith McClure, Michael person
associatedWith McClure, Michael. person
associatedWith Parker, Charlie, 1920-1955. person
associatedWith Rolf Nelson Gallery corporateBody
associatedWith Rolf Nelson Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Solnit, Rebecca. person
associatedWith Stockwell, Dean, 1938- person
associatedWith Teske, Edmund, 1911-1996. person
associatedWith Wallace Berman person
Place Name Admin Code Country
California
California
California
Subject
Small presses--United States
Public sculpture--United States
Public sculpture
Art, American--20th century
Assemblage (Art)
Beat generation
Art, American--California--Los Angeles--20th century--Exhibitions
Small presses
Collage
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1935

Americans

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