‘COOL - FORMAL - PEACHY + DISTINGUISHED'
Autograph letter, signed ‘W’ to Charles Plymell.
No place, no date [c.1965].
8vo (202 × 159 mm), 1 leaf, [2pp.], 20 lines in pencil, signed ‘W’ at the end of the second page. Near-fine.
Wallace Berman is a crucial figure in the history of postwar California art. He was born in 1926 in Staten Island, New York, and moved to Los Angeles as a child. Later he enrolled at the Jepson Art Institute and at Chouinard Art Institute, but did not finish his studies at either, instead he immersed himself in the city’s jazz and Beat scenes. In 1949 he began to make assemblage sculptures, which were shown at the Ferus Gallery in 1957, but the exhibition was closed prematurely by the Los Angeles Police Department’s vice squad. Feeling disheartened, Berman moved his family to the Bay Area, where he established the makeshift Semina Gallery and continued his loose-leaf assemblage magazine Semina, before returning to L.A. in 1961. In 1964, Berman began to make Verifax collages, which he pursued for over a decade, until his death in Topanga Canyon in 1976.
The recipient of this letter is Charles Plymell is a poet, novelist, and small press publisher who in 1968 printed the first issue of Robert Crumb’s Zap Comix. In this letter Berman seems to be referring to works by artists associated with the Semina circle that were to be featured in the second issue of Plymell’s zine Now (3 issues 1963 - 1965), which was titled Now, Now (1965). It reads:
‘Chas: / enclosed some pieces / for yr ‘shot’ — woodblock / with nuns etc. is by Ben Tal-/ bert — the work with / Egyptian + doorway is by / R. Driscoll — The drawing / (Kiss) is by George Herms —The sound piece on brown / paper is by I.E. Alexander. / — I’ll try to remember to / put the names on back / so there will not be name / hangups — [line crossed out in pencil] / My credit on my work should / be W. Berman if not too late / otherwise Wallace Berman / is cool - formal - peachy - + dis- / tinguished — / W.’
Click here to view all items in the 'Cool - Formal - Peachy + Distinguished' list