Speaking in Tongues

Wallace Berman (1926-1976) was born in Staten Island, NY and came to Los Angeles with his parents when he was four years old. In 1955 he founded the small but influential mail art publication Semina – a brilliant, loose-leaf compilation of the most advanced artists and poets of his time, including William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Jess (Collins) to name a few. Today, Berman is best known for his Verifax collages, softly sepia-colored works created with a forerunner of the photocopy machine. Influenced by surrealism, assemblage, and contemporary artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, and Andy Warhol, Berman produced multi-layered works that combined the picture of a hand-held transistor radio with images culled from newspapers and popular magazines. An exhibition at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, California, entitled Speaking in Tongues: Wallace Berman and Robert Heinecken, brings two seminal yet under-studied Los Angeles artists into close conversation with one another for the first time. This exhibition is concurrent with the Pacific Standard Time showing across Los Angeles in an en masse celebration of the Los Angeles art scene. Speaking in Tongues will on view October 2 to January 22, 2012.