Author(s): Michael Duncan
This reprint of the now classic and much sought-after 2005 volume celebrates the circle of the quintessential visual artist of the Beat era, Wallace Berman (1926-76), who remains one of the best-kept secrets of the postwar era. A crucial figure in California's underground culture, Berman was a catalyst who traversed many different worlds, transferring ideas and dreams from one circle to the next. His larger community is the subject of "Semina Culture," which includes previously unseen works by 52 artists. Anchoring this publication is "Semina," a loose-leaf art and poetry journal that Berman published in nine issues between 1955 and 1964. Although printed in extremely short runs and distributed to only a handful of friends and sympathizers, "Semina" is a brilliant and beautifully made compendium of the most interesting artists and poets of its time, and is today a very rare collector's item. Showcasing the individuals that defined a still-potent strand of postwar counterculture, "Semina Culture" outlines the energies and values of this fascinating circle. Also reproduced here are works by those who appear in Berman's own photographs, approximately 100 of which were recently developed from vintage negatives, and which are seen here for the first time. These artists, actors, poets, curators, musicians and filmmakers include Robert Alexander, John Altoon, Toni Basil, Wallace Berman, Ray Bremser, Bonnie Bremser, Charles Britten, Joan Brown, Cameron, Bruce Conner, Jean Conner, Jay DeFeo, Diane DiPrima, Kirby Doyle, Bobby Driscoll, Robert Duncan, Joe Dunn, Llyn Foulkes, Ralph Gibson, Allen Ginsberg, George Herms, Jack Hirschman, Walter Hopps, Dennis Hopper, Billy Jahrmarkt, Jess, Lawrence Jordan, Patricia Jordan, Bob Kaufman, Philip Lamantia, William Margolis, Michael McClure, David Meltzer, Taylor Mead, Henry Miller, Stuart Perkoff, Jack Smith, Dean Stockwell, Ben Talbert, Russ Tamblyn, Aya (Tarlow), Alexander Trocchi, Edmund Teske, Zack Walsh, Lew Welch and John Wieners.