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Collection > Wallace Berman >

Black Piece 2


  • Medium

    Verifax collage

  • Dimensions

    Frame: 25 1/8 x 27 1/8 x 2 in. (63.82 x 68.9 x 5.08 cm)
    23 1/2 x 25 1/2 in. (59.69 x 64.77 cm)

  • Credit

    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    Gift of Lannan Foundation

  • Accession number


  • Object label

    ​Wallace Berman made Black Piece 3 by gathering photographic images from newspapers and magazines—clock faces, hands, flowers, ancient coins, the cosmos. Using a Verifax, a 1960s predecessor to the photocopier, he reproduced those images on an advertisement for a handheld transistor radio. Though the work relies on both images and instruments of mechanical reproduction, Berman mounted the individual negative, or inverted, images to a board by hand. The Hebrew letters refer to the ancient Jewish mystical tradition of kabbalah, which derives deep symbolic meanings from the Hebrew alphabet. Since the term kabbalah means “transmission” or “reception,” Berman called radios “the kabbalah of the twentieth century.” If the visual messages that his radios broadcast seem indecipherable, this is because he was in search of a more mysterious, spiritual set of spiritual meanings in everyday, commercial mass-culture imagery.