Alan Gallery, New York
The Dennis Hopper Collection
When Bruce Conner moved from his hometown of Wichita, Kansas to San Francisco, he immediately gravitated to an orbit of brilliant artists, writers, and poets who included Jay DeFeo and Wally Hedrick, Joan Brown and Manuel Neri, Wallace Berman and his old friend Michael McClure.
"In San Francisco the trash was picked up by an organization called The Scavengers Protective Association. They went around the city with big trucks, gathering the trash by emptying trash cans onto big flat burlap sheets. They would gather it up on their backs and dump it into the truck. Or when the truck was full they would hang them on the sides like big lumpy testicles. So they were using all the remnants, refuse, and outcasts of our society. The people themselves who were doing this were considered the lowest people employed in society. I decided, we'll have the RATBASTARD PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION: people who were making things with the detritus of society, who themselves were ostracized or alienated from full involvement with the society" (Bruce Conner as quoted in 2000 BC: The Bruce Conner Story, Part II, exh. cat., Minneapolis, 1999, p. 41).
"Since the late 1950s Conner has been an important but shadowy figure in the world of American art and film. He was a key artist in the development of assemblage art, a movement of found-object sculpture that critic Peter Plagens defined as "the first home-grown California modern art." Because he was the only one of these artists to have already established connections with a New York art gallery, he was among the few California artists of the period to achieve critical recognition on the East Coast. When Museum of Modern Art curator William Seitz was organizing this landmark exhibition, the Art of the Assemblage, presented in 1961, Conner was the first West Coast artist he sought out" (Ibid., p. 26).
Santa Monica Museum of Art; Logan, Utah State University, Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art; Wichita, Ulrich Museum of Art; Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive and New York, The Grey Art Gallery, Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle, January 2005-March 31, 2007.