Tag Archives: Mail Art

Bern Porter

Cover of Bern Porter’s THE BOOK OF DO’S (The Dog Ear Press, 1982)

Bern Porter Checklist:

Section A: Books, Chapbooks, and Pamphlets


Bernard Harden “Bern” Porter (1911-2004) was an American artist, writer, publisher, performer, and physicist. In his 93 years on this earth, Porter contributed to some of the most important scientific and artistic innovations of the twentieth century. He worked on the development of the cathode-ray tube (for television), the atomic bomb (with the Manhattan Project), and NASA’s Saturn V Rocket. When the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, in 1945, Porter walked away from his position with the Manhattan Project and, disappointed with his work as a physicist, turned his attention to artistic pursuits.

In the aftermath of World War II, a flood of visual information spread across the United States. Advertisements in newspapers and magazines and on billboards and television promised an easier and happier life through the purchasing of products. For his collages, which he dubbed “Founds,” Porter gathered the waste of this new culture—advertisements, junk mail, instruction booklets, scientific documents, and other material—and turned it into art. In addition to his books of Founds, Porter authored treatises on the unification of science and art (what he called “Sciart”) and books of experimental poetry. He published work by major figures in art and literature, such as Henry Miller, Kenneth Patchen, and Dick Higgins. Also, as the self-proclaimed inventor of mail art, Porter was an active participant in a vast international network of artists who shared their work with each other through the post.


References Consulted:

Schevill, James. Where To Go What To Do When You Are Bern Porter: A Personal Biography
Gardiner: Tilbury House, 1992


Online Resources:

· Colby College – archive
· Getty Research Institute – archive
· MoMA – biography/bibliography
· Tara Odorizzi – biography/bibliography
· UbuWeb – biography/bibliography

Semina

>> return to WALLACE BERMAN main page >>

This index lists issues of Semina, the periodical edited by Wallace Berman; contributors are listed alphabetically


1. SEMINA, No. 1, edited by Wallace Berman
Los Angeles: Wallace Berman, 1955
Envelope measuring 4″ x 7.75″ with silver gelatin print of Cameron tipped on to the exterior, contains 8 letterpress and offset printed cards of various dimension, 150 copies.

Contributors include: E. I. Alexander [Robert Alexander], Charles Brittin, Cameron, Peder Carr, Jean Cocteau, Marion Grogan, Herman Hesse, Walter Hopps, David Meltzer.

2. SEMINA, No. 2, edited by Wallace Berman
Los Angeles: Wallace Berman, December 1957
Saddle-stapled in wrappers with offset and letterpress printed image tipped on to the front wrapper, 5.5″ x 8.5″, printed by Stone Brothers Printing [Robert Alexander and Wallace Berman].

Contributors include: John Altoon, Jack Anderson, Charles Baudelaire, Wallace Berman, Charles Brittin, Charles Bukowski, Cameron, Peder Carr, Lewis Carroll, Eric Cashen, Jean Cocteau, Judson Crews, Paul Eluard, Marion Grogan, Hermann Hesse, Walter Hopps, Marcia Jacobs, J.B. [James Boyer] May, Mike McClure, David Meltzer, John Reed, Idell T. Romero [Aya Tarlow], Rabindranath Tagore, Alexander Trocchi, Lynn Trocchi, Paul Valéry, Zack Walsh, Pantale Xantos [Wallace Berman].

3. SEMINA, No. 3, edited by Wallace Berman
San Francisco: Wallace Berman, 1958
Broadside measuring 6.5″ x 22″ folded and tipped into folder measuring 9″ x 11″ with offset and letterpress printed image tipped on to the front cover, 200 copies.

Contributors include: Mike McClure.

4. SEMINA, No. 4, edited by Wallace Berman
San Francisco: Wallace Berman, 1959
Folder measuring 8″ x 9.5″ with a half-tone of Shirley Berman tipped on to the front cover, internal letterpress printed pocket contains 23 offset lithograph, lithograph, and letterpress printed cards of various dimensions

Contributors include: I. E. Alexander [Robert Alexander], Wallace Berman, William Blake, Ray Bremser, William S. Burroughs, John Chance, Sou-ma Ch’ien (translation by Charles Guenther), Beverly Collins, Judson Crews, Charles Foster, Allen Ginsberg, Pierre Jean Jouve (translation by Howard Shulman), Robert Kaufman, Philip Lamantia, Ron Loewinsohn, Michael McClure, David Meltzer, Stuart Perkoff, John Reed, Idell T. Romero [Aya Tarlow], Charles Stark, Jules Supervielle (translation by Charles Guenther), John Wieners, Pantale Xantos [Wallace Berman], W.B. Yeats.

From the Colophon: Type handset on beat 5 x 8 Excelsior handpress / cover photo: “Wife” by W. Berman / San Francisco 1959 / Art is Love is God.

5. SEMINA, No. 5, edited by Wallace Berman
Larkspur: Wallace Berman, 1959
Folder measuring 5″ x 7.5″, internal letterpress printed pocket containing 18 offset lithograph and letterpress printed cards of various dimensions, 350 copies. Cover photo by Charles Brittin.

Contributors include: Antonin Artaud, Wallace Berman, John Chance, Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz (translated by Philip Lamantia), Kirby Doyle, John Hoffman, Larry Jordan, Robert Kaufman, Philip Lamantia, Christofer Maclaine, William Margolis, Michael McClure, Anne McKeever, David Meltzer, John Reed, Ruth Weiss, John Wieners, Pantale Xantos [Wallace Berman].

6. SEMINA, No. 6, edited by Wallace Berman
Larkspur: Wallace Berman, 1960
Folder measuring 8″ x 8.5″, internal letterpress printed pocket containing 14 offset lithograph printed cards each measuring 4.75″ x 5.75″, 335 copies. Cover photo by Wallace Berman.

Contributors include: David Meltzer

From the Colophon: The Clown a poem by David Meltzer 335 copies printed / Type handset on a warped 5 x 8 inch Handpress / Cover photo – Wallace Berman / Larkspur Calif. 1960

7. SEMINA, No. 7, edited by Wallace Berman
Larkspur: Wallace Berman, 1961
Folder measuring 5.5″ x 7.75″ with photo tipped on, internal letterpress printed pocket containing 17 offset lithograph and letterpress printed cards of various dimensions, 200 copies. Cover photo by Wallace Berman.

Contributors include: Wallace Berman

From the Colophon: ALEPH/ a gesture involving / photographs drawings & text / by Wallace Berman / 200 copies Larkspur Calif 1961 / for Shirley & Tosh / I love you

8. SEMINA, No. 8, edited by Wallace Berman
Los Angeles: Wallace Berman, 1963
Folder measuring 5.5″ x 7.25″ with photo tipped on, internal letterpress printed pocket containing 14 offset lithograph and letterpress printed cards of various dimensions, circa 200 copies. Cover image created by Dean Stockwell

Contributors include: A.A. [Antonin Artaud], W. [Wallace Berman], Cameron, K.D. [Kirby Doyle], J.K. [Jack Kerouac], M.M. [Michael McClure], I.T.R. [Idell T. Romero [Aya Tarlow]], z.w. [Zack Walsh], J.W. [John Wieners].

9. SEMINA, No. 9, edited by Wallace Berman
Los Angeles: Wallace Berman, 1964
Envelope with photo tipped on to the exterior, contains one letterpress printed card, circa 200 copies. Cover image created by Wallace Berman

Contributors include: Michael McClure

 


Note: In 1992 George Herms published a facsimile edition of Semina (Venice: Love Press, 1992) in an edition of 300 numbered copies signed by Herms and laid into a printed chipboard box with numbered and signed colophon. The facsimile re-creation took four years to print and has been assembled in the fashion of the originals: handset letterpress on scraps of colored paper, photos, pastedowns, etc.

Wallace Berman

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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 (Boyle Heights) 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.


Wallace Berman Checklist:

Section A: Solo and Select Group Exhibitions
Section B: Posters and Prints
Section C: Cover and Book Art
Section D: Semina


Further Reading and Reference:

ART AS A MUSCULAR PRINCIPLE, 10 Artists and San Francisco 1950-1965, edited by Merril Greene and Alix Meier
Mount Holyoke: John and Norah Warbeke Gallery, 1975

ART IN LOS ANGELES: SEVENTEEN ARTISTS IN THE SIXTIES, edited by Maurice Tuchman
Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1981

ASSEMBLAGE IN CALIFORNIA: WORKS FROM THE LATE 50’S AND EARLY 60’S
Irvine: Art Gallery, University of California, 1968

DIFFERENT DRUMMERS, edited by Frank Gettings
Washington DC: Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 1988

LA POP IN THE SIXTIES, edited by Anne Ayres
Newport Beach: Newport Harbor Art Museum, 1989

SAN FRANCISCO RENAISSANCE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE ’50S AND ’60S, edited and with an introduction by Merril Greene
New York: Gotham Book Mart Gallery, 1975

SECRET EXHIBITION: SIX CALIFORNIA ARTISTS OF THE COLD WAR ERA, edited by Rebecca Solnit
San Francisco: City Lights, 1990

SUPPORT THE REVOLUTION, edited by Tosh Berman, Michael McClure, David Meltzer, Colin Gardner, Walter Hopps, Christopher Knight, Eduardo Lipschutz-Villa, Charles Brittin
Amsterdam: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1992

THIRD RAIL, Issue 9, edited by Uri Hertz
Los Angeles: Third Rail, 1988

UTOPIA AND DISSENT: ART, POETRY, AND POLITICS IN CALIFORNIA, by Richard Cándida Smith
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995)


Online Resources:

· Art Net – Wallace Berman
· Kohn Gallery – Wallace Berman
· Ubuweb – Wallace Berman
· University of Delaware – Wallace Berman and Semina


Collaborators:

· Robert Alexander
· Cameron
· Jay De Feo
· Bobby Driscoll
· Dave Haselwood
· Michael McClure
· David Meltzer
· Dean Stockwell ( D.·. )
· Russ Tamblyn