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PRELIMINARY INVENTORY OF THE GEORGE HERMS PAPERS, 1890-2009 (bulk 1960-2000)
2009.M.20  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
Southern California artist, writer, and musician George Herms was one of the founders of the West Coast assemblage movement. Influenced by the art of his close friend Wallace Berman, his work brings together discards, beach trash, urban detritus and other "found objects" to create a highly original and personal mix of collage, sculpture, and assemblage. The bulk of the papers comprise full documentation of Herms' life and work from 1960-2000.
Background
The son of an agronomist, George Herms was born in Woodland, CA in 1935. While studying engineering at the University of California at Berkeley in 1953, Herms became fascinated with jazz and literature. He left school in 1954 and moved to Los Angeles, where he found a job as a tabulation operator for Douglas Aircraft and spent evenings in jazz clubs. In 1955, he met the Beat poet Robert Alexander and the assemblage artist Wallace Berman, and over the next two years solidified friendships with them, and also with Dean Stockwell, David Meltzer, and other artists and poets. He also helped Shirley and Wallace Berman assemble the hand-printed, personally distributed literary journal Semina. Soon Herms bought his own small hand-press and began printing poems, an activity that would become a lifetime enterprise known as Love Press. He also began to make assemblage collages out of machine parts, punch-card detritus, and beach trash. In 1957, he brought his assemblages together in a vacant lot for Secret Exhibition, a self-curated, solo show viewed only by Wallace Berman and John Reed, that was allowed to decompose in place after the show's end.
Extent
231.7 linear feet (380 boxes, 65 flatfile folders)
Restrictions
Contact Library Reproductions and Permissions.
Availability
Open for use by qualified researchers except for Box 20, folder 8, which is sealed for Catherine Morehead's lifetime, and Box 136, folder 10, which is sealed until 2084.