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.
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.
231.7 Linear Feet
(380 boxes, 65 flatfile folders)
Contact Library Reproductions and Permissions.
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.