Item #6837 Semina Two. Wallace Berman.
Semina Two
Semina Two

Semina Two

[Los Angeles / San Francisco]: Wallace Berman, [1957]. Offset and letterpress on cardboard wrap; pages pasted with offset, letterpress, and typewritten plates. Saddle-stapled. [28] pp. 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. Very good; some wear on hinge and fore edge, patches of discoloration on front wrap, faint fingerprints on inside front wrap. . Item #6837

The second issue of Wallace Berman’s exceedingly rare self-published art and literary journal, Semina - distributed solely to friends - with contributions from Jean Cocteau, Paul Valery, Paul Eluard, Alexander Trocchi and others. 

Produced in the aftermath of Berman’s obscenity arrest, Semina Two was the first issue published in San Francisco; a total of nine issues were printed between 1955 and 1964. Each hand-printed issue included content created by Berman’s friends and was distributed by mail only to the contributors and other friends. Both a compilation and a discrete work in itself, Semina featured art and poetry by members of Berman’s circle of Beat artists and writers. In 1957, the same year Semina Two was produced, Berman’s only gallery exhibition at Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles was shut down by the LAPD’s vice squad for the display of allegedly lewd material—a drawing by the artist Cameron from the inaugural issue of Semina. After the show’s premature closure and Berman’s conviction on obscenity charges, he moved from Los Angeles (which he decried a “city of degenerate angels”) to the Bay Area, and went on to publish Semina Two from San Francisco.

Published and hand-produced by Berman, issues of Semina were produced with some variances; this example lacks the photo and typesetting credits sometimes found on the back inside cover - sometimes pasted in and sometimes handwritten. It also lacks the announcement of the Ferus Gallery exhibition closure sometimes found on the back cover. Notably, there is no adhesive residue and no signs that this copy ever had those additions. Overall, a remarkably bright and clean copy.

With contributions by Herman Hesse, Mike McClure, Jean Cocteau, Jack Anderson, Paul Valery, Paul Eluard, Eric Cashen, Alexander Trocchi, Lynn Trocchi, Idell T. Romero, Zack Walsh, J. B. May, Marion Grogan, John Reed, Judson Crews, Peder Carr, Charles Bukowski, Charles Baudelaire (translated by Hyman Lopez), David Meltzer, Cameron, Rabindranath Tagore, and Berman himself under the pseudonyms Pantale Xantos and Marcia Jacobs. Cover photograph by Charles Brittin. 

OCLC locates nine copies of this issue as of March 2023.