On View at the Getty Center: Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970
Wallace Berman’s Topanga Seed is a large dolomite boulder, replete with cracks and imperfections, onto which the artist transferred Hebrew letters. Berman was fascinated by the Kabbalah, a mystical branch of Judaism, although his understanding of the Hebrew language was more intuitive than scholarly. The letters here do not form meaningful words and sentences, but Berman’s placement of them directly onto the surface of the rock evokes the Kabbalistic conception of letters as the material building blocks of the world. For several decades, this work has been housed at the entryway to the home of collectors Elyse and Stanley Grinstein, who frequently hosted artists at their parties, performances, and receptions. Much of the Los Angeles art world came through this house, where the first thing that they would encounter would be Topanga Seed.