The collection is arranged into nine series which generally reflect material type. With the exception of the letters in Series 1, each series is arranged chronologically. The original arrangement of the letters has been maintained, with a chronological arrangement of miscellaneous business letters and an alphabetical arrangement of the letters from Berman's more prominent colleagues. Series 1: Letters, 1957-1979, undated (box 1, 0.5 linear feet) Series 2: Notes from Interview, 1967 (box 1, 1 folder) Series 3: Writings by Others, 1972, undated (box 1, 6 folders) Series 4: Artwork, 1956-1976 (box 1, 4 folders) Series 5: Semina, 1955-1967 (boxes 1-2, 26 folders) Series 6: S. M. S., 1968 (box 2, 1 folders) Series 7: Printed Material, 1907-1976 (boxes 2-5, 2.7 linear feet) Series 8: Photographs, 1956-1976 (box 5, 6 folders) Series 9: Sound Recordings, 1962-1965 (box 5, 6 folders)
Access Note / Rights:
The collection is open for research. Patrons must use microfilm copy. Use of audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Wallace Berman papers date from 1907 to 1979 (bulk 1955-1979). The collection measures 5 linear feet and presents a cursory overview of Berman's career as an assemblage artist and poet. The collection contains business correspondence, letters from other artists and writers of the Beat movement, writings by others, scattered artwork by Berman, photographs by Robert F. Heinecken, and sound recordings of poetry readings.
Wallace Berman papers, 1907-1979, bulk 1955-1979. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
This collection is available on 35 mm microfilm reels 5282-5284 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the material described in the container inventory does not reflect the arrangement of the collection on microfilm.
Most of the sound recordings have been digitized for research access and are available at the Archives of American Art offices.
Wallace Berman was born in 1926 in Staten Island, New York. In the 1930s, his family moved to the Jewish district in Los Angeles. After being expelled from high school for gambling in the early 1940s, Berman immersed himself in the growing West Coast jazz scene. During this period, he briefly attended the Jepson Art School and Chouinard Art School, but departed when he found the training too academic for his needs.
The Wallace Berman papers were donated by Tosh Berman, Wallace Berman's son, in 1992.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001