Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976

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Wallace Berman was born in 1926 in Staten Island, New York. In the 1930s, his family moved to the Jewish district in Los Angeles. After being expelled from high school for gambling in the early 1940s, Berman immersed himself in the growing West Coast jazz scene. During this period, he briefly attended the Jepson Art School and Chouinard Art School, but departed when he found the training too academic for his needs.

In 1949, while working in a factory finishing antique furniture, he began to make sculptures from unused scraps and reject materials. By the early 1950s, Berman had become a full-time artist and an active figure in the beat community in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Many art historians consider him to be the "father" of the California assemblage movement. Moving between the two cities, Berman devoted himself to his mail art publication Semina, which contained a sampling of beat poetry and images selected by Berman.

In 1963, permanently settled in Topanga Canyon in the Los Angeles area, Berman began work on verifax collages (printed images, often from magazines and newspapers, mounted in collage fashion onto a flat surface, sometimes with solid bright areas of acrylic paint). He continued creating these works, as well as rock assemblages, until his death in 1976.

From the guide to the Wallace Berman, 1907-1979 (bulk 1955-1979), (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)

Assemblage artist, poet; Los Angeles and San Francisco, Calif.; b. 1926; d. 1976

Born in Staten Island, N.Y., Berman moved to Los Angeles with his family in the 1930s. After being expelled from high school for gambling, he briefly attended the Jepson Art School and the Chouinard Art School. By the 1950s, he had become a full-time assemblage artist and produced a mail art publication Semina, which contained a sampling of beat poetry and images selected by Berman. In 1963, he permanently settled in Topanga Canyon near Los Angeles and created verifax collages and rock assemblages.

From the description of Wallace Berman papers, 1907-1979 (bulk 1955-1979). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79899086

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Brown, Joan, 1938-1990,. Oral history interview with Joan Brown, 1975 July 1-Sept. 9 [sound recording]. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976,. Correspondence from Wallace Berman to David Meltzer, [ca. 1971]. Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library
referencedIn George Herms papers, 1890-2009 Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Jordan, Larry, 1934-. Oral history interview with Larry Jordan, 1995 Dec. 19 - 1996 July 30. Archives of American Art
referencedIn 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 Charles Brittin papers, 1914-2004 (bulk 1950-1975) Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Berman, Wallace. [Wallace Berman] : artist file John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Library, Ringling Museum Library
referencedIn Herms, George, 1935-. George Herms interviews, 1993 Dec. 8, 10, 13 - 1994 Mar 10. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Diane Di Prima Papers, 1948-1971 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
creatorOf Wallace Berman, 1907-1979 (bulk 1955-1979) Archives of American Art
creatorOf DeFeo, Jay, 1929-1989. Jay DeFeo papers, 1948-1976. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Armory Center for the Arts. Oral History Interviews : Speaking in Tongues : The Art of Wallace Berman and Robert Heinecken [sound recording] / [sponsored by the Getty Foundation]. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Hal Glicksman papers, 1927-2010 Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Berman, Wallace. [Wallace Berman] : artist file John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Library, Ringling Museum Library
creatorOf Alexander, Bob, 1923-1987. Bob Alexander papers, 1960-1987. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Aya Tarlow Papers, 1954-2002 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Robert Alexander papers and Temple of Man records, 1938-2015 Archives of American Art
referencedIn Conner, Bruce,. Oral history interview with Bruce Conner, 1974 Mar. 29 [sound recording]. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976 : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn Edmund Teske papers, 1933-1996 Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976. Artist file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
referencedIn Herms, George, 1935-. Oral history interview with George Herms 1993 Dec. 8, 10, 13-1994 Mar 10. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976. Berman, Wallace. School of The Art Institute of Chicago, John M Flaxman Library
referencedIn Mark Green papers, 1954-1991, bulk 1954-1978 Archives of American Art
referencedIn William J. Eisenlord photographs, 1953-1976 Archives of American Art
creatorOf Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976. Wallace Berman papers, 1907-1979 (bulk 1955-1979). Archives of American Art
referencedIn Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976. Wallace Berman artist file. Whitney Museum of American Art, Library
referencedIn Villa, Carlos. Oral History interview with Carlos Villa, 1995 June 20-1995 July 10 [sound recording]. Archives of American Art
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
acquaintanceOf Alexander, Robert, 1923-1987 person
associatedWith Armory Center for the Arts. corporateBody
correspondedWith Aya, 1932- person
associatedWith Bengston, Billy Al person
associatedWith Brittin, Charles, 1928- person
associatedWith Brown, Joan, 1938-1990, person
associatedWith Conner, Bruce, person
associatedWith DeFeo, Jay, 1929- person
associatedWith Di Prima, Diane person
associatedWith Duncan, Robert Edward, 1919- person
associatedWith Eisenlord, William J. person
associatedWith Fonda, Peter, 1940- person
associatedWith Ginsberg, Allen, 1926- person
associatedWith Glicksman, Hal person
associatedWith Green, Mark person
associatedWith Green, Mark L., 1932-2004. person
associatedWith Heinecken, Robert, 1931- person
associatedWith Herms, George, 1935- person
associatedWith Hirschman, Jack, 1933- person
associatedWith Hopper, Dennis, 1936- person
associatedWith Jess, 1923- person
associatedWith Johnson, Ray, 1927- person
associatedWith Jordan, Larry, 1934- person
associatedWith Jordan, Patricia M., 1937-1989 person
associatedWith Lamantia, Philip, 1927- person
associatedWith McClure, Michael person
associatedWith McClure, Michael. person
associatedWith Meltzer, David person
correspondedWith Meltzer, David person
associatedWith Miller, Henry, 1891- person
associatedWith Patchen, Kenneth, 1911-1972 person
Perkoff, Stuart Z. person
associatedWith Perkoff, Stuart Z. person
associatedWith Sherman, Donald person
associatedWith Sherman, Donald. person
associatedWith Teske, Edmund, 1911-1996. person
associatedWith The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Villa, Carlos, person
associatedWith Whitney Museum of American Art. corporateBody
associatedWith Wieners, John, 1934-2002 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
California
California--San Francisco Bay Area
Subject
Assemblage (Art)
Beat generation
Arts
Photography, Artistic
Collage
Assemblage artists
Beat generation--California
Poets
Occupation
Artists, American
Artists, American--California
Activity

Person

Birth 1926-02-26

Death 1976-02-18

Americans

Information

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SNAC ID: 84218264