The Daily Heller: Merrill Berman’s Bottomless Pit

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A bottomless pit has various connotations. According to Merriam Webster, it’s “something that holds a very large amount of something.” At least that limits its bottomlessness somewhat. When referring to Merrill C. Berman (who I interviewed years ago here) it is not just a compliment, it is an expression of awe and wonder. Berman, for those who are not familiar, is arguably the leading documentary collector and patron of international Avant Garde graphic design in the United States. Many scholars have benefited from the generous access he provides; many museums have filled walls and sprouted collections because of his enthusiastic loans and donations.

Francesco Cangiullo (Italian, 1884–1977). Book: Futurista caffe concerto: alfabeto a sorpresa (Futurist café concert: a surprise alphabet), 1919.

I have written in the past about the great service he has been providing through the Merrill C. Berman Collection’s email newsletter. He’s featured works from his holdings about movements, individual artists and designers, rough sketches. I have a favorites page filled with dozens of links to the likes of Emory Douglas, Frantisek Zelenka, Vladmir Mayakovski and Walter Dexel, and such themes as Cologne Progressives, Japanese Posters, Disrupting Design and much more.

The images below come from a two-part newsletter on Early Italian Futurist Books and Drawings (Parole in Liberta, words in freedom). Visit Berman’s site here, and come away enlightened and invigorated.

Left: Carlo Carrà (Italian, 1881–1966). Graphic Rhythm With Airplane (Homage to Blériot), 1914. Pen and ink with graphite and collage on graph paper. Formerly Merrill C. Berman Collection, now National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Right: Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (Italian, 1876–1944). Si = No (Yes = No), c. 1915. Ink on verso of letterhead (Palace Hotel, Bruxelles).
Pasqualino Cangiullo (Italian, 1900–1975). Una schiaffeggiata futurista (A Futurist Scuffle), 1916. Ink and pencil on graph paper. Formerly Merrill C. Berman Collection, now The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Volt (pseudonym for Vincenzo Fani Ciotti, Italian, 1888–1927). Provincia: Caffè della Posta (Provincial Café), 1916 Gouache, colored pencils and ink on paper.
Francesco Cangiullo (Italian, 1884–1977). Università: Studenti in Lettere (University: Students in Letters), 1915. Gouache and ink on board. (This work was exhibited as “no. 35” in the exhibition Esposizione Futurista Internazionale, Winter Club, Torino (1922), and bears the identifying label at lower left.)
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