Bruce Conner, George Herms and Robert Mallary, three radical American Junk artists are brought together in Do Not Remove, at The Mayor Gallery, London.
Synonymous with the Beat Generation, all artists had a profound effect on the direction of art away from American-Action Painting towards the development of Conceptual Art, embracing, as they did not only the aesthetic concerns of previous movements but also the prevailing ecological, political and philosophical concerns of the time. Called ‘Junk’ artists for their reclamation of broken everyday detritus Conner, Herms and Mallary reclaimed and reformed their objects’ life, combining a Surrealist obsession with the found object with a dark sensibility of the Victorian collector.
Bruce Conner (b. 1933 McPherson – d. 2008 San Francisco, USA) first exhibited in New York after receiving his BFA from Nebraska University in 1956. In 1957, Conner moved to San Francisco where he soon became involved in the Beat Scene. Founding the Rat Bastard Protective Association in 1959, (named in reference to the profound influence the city’s garbage collectors and the burlap bundles of trash that swayed pendulously from their trucks, had on his assemblage sculptures) with notable Funk and Beat artists including Wally Hedrick and George Herms.
George Herms (b. 1935 Woodland, USA) assembles beauty and form from detritus, sealing them, quite demonstrably, with LOVE (the word to be found upon many of Herms’ pieces) as if reinvigorating, transforming what was once discarded and dismissed with the caring hands of an adoptive father. Herms embarked upon a career as an artist after seeing a show of Wallace Berman’s work at the Ferus Gallery. Berman subsequently became a mentor to Herms; his first exhibition in 1957 was a “secret exhibition” attended only by Berman and Walter Hopps (co-founder, with Ed Kienholz, of the Ferus Gallery). Herms’ work turns away from the modernist call to order and instead allows the loose compositions within and between his assemblages to create a free conversation, playing out that Beat jazz musicality and poetry of lost souls.
Robert Mallary (b. 1917 Toledo – d. 1997 Northampton, USA) was a junk artist who contributed to the blossoming of American sculpture in the late 1950's and early 60's, and who was also a pioneer in the use of plastics and computers in art (creating the world’s first computer generated sculpture in 1969).
In the early 60's, he, like Conner and Herms, favoured trash - discarded pieces of cardboard, wood, cloth rags and clothing - and occasionally store-bought items like tuxedos. These he assembled, with the help of polyester resin, into rough, painting-like reliefs and sculptures that veered between the angst of Abstract Expressionism and the insouciance of Pop Art. Mallary brought a fierce new physical reality to art through the use of found objects and unusual materials.
It is a poetry of transformation that unites these three radical Neo-Dadaist Junk artists and in this exhibition we see lost objects, lost souls and flyaway thoughts reclaimed and reformed and given the chance to speak and be desired again.
Press enquiries: Niina Cunynghame at The Mayor Gallery firstname.lastname@example.org
Mon-Fri 10am - 5.30pm; Sat 12pm - 3pm - Admission: Free
Nearest Tube Station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus.