Magazine article Artforum International

"Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle"; Grey Art Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

"Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle"; Grey Art Gallery

Article excerpt

Having meandered across the country on a five-city tour, "Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle," which originated at the Santa Monica Museum of Contemporary Art in late 2005, found its final destination at NYU's Grey Art Gallery this January. The loose trajectory from West to East is hardly unrelated to the exhibition, which--while rich in SoCal, Beat-era flavor--highlighted the vehement cross-pollination between coasts as it was manifested particularly within Berman's wide-ranging group of friends and acquaintances. Indeed, while the quintessential (but never mainstreamed) bohemian was the ostensible hub of the show, his roles as facilitator, interlocutor, and documenter to more than fifty other artists, poets, performers, and personalities meant that the show felt like a family affair.

Including work in nearly every medium by figures such as Jay DeFeo, Allen Ginsberg, Walter Hopps, Jack Smith, Toni Basil, Bruce Conner, Dennis Hopper, and Michael McClure, the show also featured many images of Berman's pals as seen through his eyes and, alternatively, Berman as seen through theirs. Joan Brown, who regarded Berman as the driving force of what she called their "moral group," is captured by Berman in a 1958 photograph, peering over her own 1957 sculpture Man on Horseback (also included in "Semina Culture"). The subject's gaze is direct and intimate; she is asking a question or has just been asked one, has just revealed something or had something revealed to her. It's an instance of how people can look when caught on film by someone with whom they share their thoughts, their lives, their practices. Berman was able to coax this look from many people, and "Semina Culture" is all about the affects and effects of such exchanges.

Exchange, of course, was the basis of Berman's most famous project: Semina, a kind of loose-leaf mail-art journal, of which there were nine issues between 1955 and 1964. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.