Tag Archives: Deborah Kirshman

Book explores impact of Berkeley Art Museum’s Peter Selz

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When Peter Selz arrived in Berkeley in 1965, the university only had a small art gallery to display its modest collection of art. Selz had been recruited from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to oversee the construction of a new, contemporary museum, the Berkeley Art Museum on Bancroft Way.

He did that and more. With Selz at the helm, the Berkeley Art Museum redefined many aspects of modern art and brought overdue attention to California artists.

Selz was already “something of a star,” when he arrived in Berkeley, according to Paul J. Karlstrom, whose new book, Peter Selz: Sketches of a Life, has just been released by UC Press. He had been one of the first curators to trumpet the work of Mark Rothko. His star grew even brighter in Berkeley after he put on groundbreaking shows such as “Directions in Kinetic Sculpture,” an exhibition of the Surrealist René Magritte, and Funk!, which showcased ceramicist Peter Voulkos, Bruce Conner, and other California artists. Selz, who had fled Germany during the Nazi regime, also created the Pacific Film Archive. … Continue reading »

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Arts

The night Pablo Picasso heard the UC Berkeley fight song

Alice B. Toklas and Harriet Lane Levy in Fiesole, Italy in 1909. Phot: Bancroft Library
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In 1908, a Jewish woman from San Francisco named Harriet Lane Levy was invited to a supper in Montmartre to honor the painter Henri Rousseau. This was no ordinary supper: its hosts were the painter Pablo Picasso and his lover, Fernande Olivier.

Levy was well acquainted with the artists, painters, poets, and writers who lived in Paris in the first decades of the 20th century and came to be known as The Lost Generation. In 1907, she and her neighbor, Alice B. Toklas, left San Francisco to visit Paris. On their first day there they went to see a good friend, Sarah Samuels, who had married Michael Stein. In the room was Michael’s sister, Gertrude Stein. The love match between Stein and Toklas is one of the most famous couplings in history. … Continue reading »

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