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Testsite, Austin, USA
September 7, 2014 – October 19, 2014
Curator : Sarah Bancroft
Fluent~Collaborative & testsite are pleased to present LOVE George Herms, an installation of collages and sculpture by Beat-generation master George Herms. Curated by Sarah C. Bancroft, this is Herms’ first exhibition in Texas since 2002.
The presentation at testsite will feature a small selection of the artist’s celebrated found-object sculptures and assemblages, and several collages from the past decade. Many of the collages are comprised of timeworn ephemera—envelopes, letterhead, receipts, mailers, announcements—collected from the past five decades. With the patina of age, these materials document the history of the artist’s own career and influence. (The materials used are largely remains of the culling and documentation of the artist’s papers by The Getty Research Institute, future home of the Herms archive). Reflecting Herms’ location in Southern California, other collages recycle the saturated advertising imagery found in local glossy society rags and luxury magazines. Regurgitating high-keyed images of fast cars, expensive jewelry, exotic natural imagery and haute couture clothing, Herms has created abstract delicacies of intricacy and beauty. The selection of small-scale sculptures on view reveal the artist’s deft wit and facility with at-hand materials that he combines with language (in text and title) to compose gentle, unexpected masterpieces. The project at testsite includes the assemblage Seitz (2011), a tribute to the brilliant curator, art historian and artist William “Bill” Seitz, whose early exhibition The Art of Assemblage first brought Herms national and international acclaim. Additional assemblages in the exhibition were created as gifts for close friends and family, and reveal the artist’s unique humor and working process through the brilliant if idiosyncratic coalescence of text with thought, emotion and form.
George Herms, Beat generation poet-performer-artist, is one of the founders of the California Assemblage Movement, and was included in the seminal MoMA exhibition The Art of Assemblage organized by William Seitz in New York in 1961. A friend to Wallace Berman, Diane Di Prima, Allen Ginsberg, Walter Hopps and other notable art and literary figures in his youth, Herms is a cult-figure of the Los Angeles art scene whose art work, performances and poetry have continued to draw audiences and collectors across the United States and Europe. Discarded materials and found objects populate his singular assemblages, sculptures that are at once personal, prophetic, endearing and challenging. Herms has likewise published work by contemporaries and friends on his LOVE Press, including authors Diane Di Prima, Jack Hirschman, Michael McClure, and a complete facsimile edition of Wallace Berman’s Semina. Each of Herms’ works is hand-stamped with the letters “L O V E,” the artist’s affectionate imprimatur. Equally influenced by poetry and jazz music, elements of improvisation and serendipity inform his creative process. Born in Woodland, California in 1935, Herms studied at UC Berkeley in 1955, and has taught as a lecturer in sculpture or served as an artist in residence at UCLA, UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton, Otis and elsewhere. Herms’ honors include fellowships and grants from The Getty Research Institute, Gottlieb Foundation, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Pollock Krasner Foundation, and Prix de Rome. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Berkeley Museum of Art, the de Young Museum, LACMA, the Menil Collection, MoCA LA, SF MoMA, the Walker Art Center, and elsewhere. His two-volume artist monograph, George Herms: The River Book, was recently published by Hamilton Press, Venice, CA, 2014.
Sarah C. Bancroft is Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs at Fluent~Collaborative/testsite in Austin, Texas. An art historian and curator, Bancroft held curatorial positions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Orange County Museum of Art before moving to Austin, Texas in 2013. She specializes in modern and contemporary art, and her critically-acclaimed exhibitions include Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series (2011-12), Two Schools of Cool (2011), California Biennial (2010), Video Work by Gao Shiquang and Chen Qiulin (2009), and James Rosenquist: A Retrospective (2003), which she co-curated with the late, legendary American curator Walter Hopps. Bancroft received advanced degrees from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and her curatorial projects have received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Luce Foundation, the Robert Lehman Foundation, the Fellows of Contemporary Art, and others. She is currently organizing a Richard Diebenkorn exhibition for the Royal Academy of Arts in London (spring 2015), and a James Rosenquist exhibition for the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art (fall 2014). In addition to her role at testsite, Bancroft will soon begin her position as Executive Director of the James Rosenquist Foundation.