from The New York Times

Two Artists United by Devotion to Women


As artists’ biographies go, those of Wallace Berman and Richard Prince could hardly be more different. Berman, who died at 50 in 1976, the victim of a drunken driver, was a kind of Beat guru flying just below the radar, showing his work in only one conventional gallery exhibition during his lifetime and popping into rare view in strange places: a cameo in “Easy Rider”; the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” where his face is wedged next to Tony Curtis’s, just below Jung’s.

princeberman.pngBy contrast Mr. Prince, 59, labored in obscurity for years but not exactly by choice: he wanted a larger audience and found it. For more than two decades he has been one of the most influential contemporary artists, and his work — paintings, photography, car-centric sculpture — has sold for many millions of dollars, allowing him to create an impressive studio complex in Rensselaerville, N.Y., in Albany County.

But Berman’s eccentric, highly personal art and career has long fascinated Mr. Prince, who has painstakingly collected copies of his signature work, Semina, a kind of early California zine that Berman made with — and mailed only to — his friends, from 1955 to 1963. For Mr. Prince, a bibliophile with a special love for the Beat years, the fascination stems partly from Berman’s Zelig-like connections in those years: his circle included Allen GinsbergDennis Hopper and Henry Miller. One of Berman’s collaborators was the artist known as Cameron, whose first husband, Jack Parsons, as Mr. Prince notes, was a friend of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology

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