Author(s): Claudi Bohn-Spector + Sam Mellon
Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the artist's accidental death at age 50, this volume offers the first substantial survey of the entire oeuvre of Wallace Berman (1926-76) from the late 1940s until 1976.Berman has been long heralded as one of the most significant and influential artists to emerge in Southern California. Spiritually inclined yet steeped in popular culture and the political events of the day, he conducted reconnaissance far beyond the borders of California, mining the American psyche and broadcasting his ideas through mail art, publications, photographs and multilayered art works.Berman intersected with several intriguing cultural moments, starting with his first Los Angeles solo show in 1957 at Ed Kienholz and Walter Hopps' Ferus Gallery. He also participated in an important 1966 group exhibition in London at the legendary Robert Fraser Gallery, whose other artists included Richard Hamilton, Bruce Conner and Peter Blake--who put Berman's face among the notable crowd in his cover for the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.As interest in West Coast art has increased over the past 40 years, scholars have viewed Berman as a quintessentially Californian artist whose entourage of likeminded friends was essential to the formation of his creative vision. This volume takes a broader view, reassessing Berman's significant contributions to the history of 20th-century American art.