Peter Selz, founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum, was astounded to see the paintings, most of which are by Sylvia Ludins.
On Sunday, hundreds of people swarmed through every nook and cranny, every cantilevered balcony and ramp, within the concrete hulk of the Berkeley Art Museum at 2626 Bancroft Way. They came to say goodbye to a building that has hosted innumerable highly regarded exhibitions over four decades, as well as art installations, fashionable events, and parties.
When Gabrielle Selz was growing up in New York in the 1960s, her house was filled with artists who have become icons of the time: Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, and Alberto Giacometti.
Saved by the Bay: The Intellectual Migration from Fascist Europe to UC Berkeley, the exhibition currently on view at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life in Berkeley through June 27, may be a bellwether of that institution’s recent metamorphosis.
In our wired era of ubiquitous information and perpetual image bombardment, all of human history, cultural production included, is online and available for plunder: to sample, remix, recycle and repurpose. This embarrassment of riches has not been lost on artists. In music, film, TV, literature, performance, visual art, you name it, today’s artists steal voraciously from everywhere.
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.