Thursday, March 01, 2007

Miller Art Showing In Berman Exhibit

Two watercolours by Henry Miller and a rarely-seen photograph of him are apparently on display in New York City until the end of March. His work is but a footnote to the exhibit's main subject: Wallace Berman. I've had no luck finding anything published about Miller and his connection to Berman and Semina magazine; all I have are the internet items I describe below.

Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle is currently showing at NYU's Grey Art Gallery. The online guide describes Berman (1926-1976; seen at left) as the "quintessential West Coast visual artist of the Beat era," and his Semina magazine as "a hand-printed free-form loose-leaf art and poetry journal published in nine issues from 1955 to 1964—which served as a brilliant compendium of the most interesting artists and poets of the time."

The show has been traveling since September 2005. The reviews of this exhibition don't explicitly state that Miller was ever in Semina magazine, but the show also includes "rarely exhibited works in a variety of mediums by 48 artists, friends and collaborators in Berman’s artistic projects" (quoted from this review). "The show is laid out with a simple recipe," says this LA Weekly review, "a newly printed Berman photo portrait of the artist or poet in question, followed by a selection of their work." "Henry Miller was represented by two spirited watercolors," says an Art In America review.


Miller's actor friend Russ Tamblyn [seen below, left] once threw a party for Henry, at which Russ met Wally Berman (ref.). The meeting with Berman inspired Tamblyn to pursue collage art. This party must have been around 1964 (the year that the final issue of Semina was printed) because this is the year that Tamblyn cites as the time when he made the venture into visual art. It's probable that this was when Miller met Berman as well. In fact, 1964 is the date written on the one letter from Henry Miller to Berman in the Wallace Berman Papers at the Smithsonian [ref. only]. As a matter of trivia, Berman was arrested by the LAPD in 1957 and charged with exhibiting "lewd and lascivious pornographic art"by the same judge who had declared Miller's work obscene. [ref.]
The Semina Culture exhibit runs until March 31, 2007.

The above image of the exhibit was found on this blog, which also includes a recent review of the show.

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