West Coast Collage and Assemblies
“Once,” opens the caption of the first of Jess Collins’s multi-panel collage, “a misanthropic Goblin was perplexed by the dilemma of a fleshless cupboard modulated by the friendliest ravening crew unadorned by a penny.” Jess (he went by first name only), alongside his partner, the poet Robert Duncan, was something of an unofficial steward of a multidisciplinary movement centered around California beginning in the 1950s. The group show “West Coast Collage and Assemblies,” on view at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, homes in specifically on the collages and assemblies produced by this ravening crew and their influences—“friends,” in the parlance of the accompanying press release—who lift their referents from a sources as diverse as their medium.
A 13-work series of collages from Wallace Berman, a seminal figure in the Beat movement and founder of the magazine Semina, spans two walls of the gallery. Patricia Jordan contributes a photograph of Berman adorned with jewelry made by Jay deFeo, while Berman in turn contributes one of Jordan. In terms of assemblies, Bruce Conner contributes one of the loveliest and least informative globes you’ve ever seen, its surface scored by swirls of coral-like growth, the outlines of continents only occasionally visible: a vision of a world deconstructed and remade.
Helen Adam, Benign Mag Divine Bear, c. 1957-59. Collage, 12 1/2 x 19 1/4 inches.