George Herms
(b. 1935, Woodland, CA)

 

Arising out of the Beat movement of the 1950s, George Herms is widely recognized as one of the West coast’s premier assemblage artists. After a semester as an engineering student and football player at UC Berkeley, Herms met artist-poet Wallace Berman, 10-years his senior, and decided to leave school and focus on his own artistic interests. He was quickly adopted into Berman’s circle and divided his time between northern and southern California, scouring beaches and junkyards for the objects of his “shrines” – spontaneous and sometimes-temporary assemblages created from the detritus of society. His first exhibition, titled Secret Exhibition, in 1957 was held in a front yard in Hermosa Beach, CA, and was seen only by Berman and John Reed. Berman would become Herm’s greatest role model. They both blurred the boundaries between art and life, worked with freedom, spontaneity and a desire to see something new, and refused to pigeonhole artists and their work into preexisting categories.

 

Now in his mid-70s, Herms continues to make insightful assemblages infused with humor and playfulness, characterized by his trademark “L.O.VE.” stamp. He recently composed a free-jazz opera called the Artist’s Life as part of Pacific Standard Time—a 6-month multi-institutional initiative of the Getty Museum telling the story of the birth of L.A.’s Art Scene. He’s been a recipient of the Rome Prize [1982], a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship [1983] and a fellowship from the Getty Research Institute [2000]. He has also been the subject of several major exhibitions of the past few years, most recently “George Herms: Xenophilia (Love of the Unknown)”, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2011.