Art Forms, Miscellaneous

Our Final Post on Paper

Within the manuscripts was another neat addition to our collection, an interview and behind the scenes documentary explaining why Arthur chose to create paper in the traditional method and how it contributed to his work.

Why would a contemporary artist be interested in doing this? Well, Arthur viewed it as an art form itself and specifically came to France because that location marked the beginning of the tradition. The paper mills in the United States were simply influenced by French paper making.

Further into the interview, the difference between working in rather than on paper is discussed. Specifically, while working on paper it loses its identity with the image becoming the dominating presence. On the other hand, the pate form of paper can resemble both a two and three dimensional format, painterly and sculptural. In addition, Arthur considers his torn paper collages to possess a unique quality, again relating to sculpture.

Arthur decided to defy the usual procedure and actually mixed the colors of his choosing and poured them directly onto the mold. This experiment left him guessing how everything would turn out, would the colors blend together and would they bleed? Curiosity and worry greeted Arthur at the end of the day, his anticipation would grow through the night and into the morning when he could see the final result.





More on Paper Making

Sorry for the delay, it has been really busy here at the museum this last month…which is a good thing, so we’re not complaining.

Fortunately not all of the manuscripts regarding Arthur’s experience at the paper mill were in French. Here is a section that describes in detail what’s involved in the process:

“The ancient press is turned by hand, yet is able to squeeze the excess moisture from the stack of paper with several tons of pressure. Four men are needed for this operation of the presage. Pulling the wet paper and felt underneath the press, they pile heavy wooden boards on the top of the stack and water oozes from it like a waterfall.

The press is turned a few times with the help of all the workers. Then one of them places a huge log with a rope tied around it parallel to the ceiling and pulls it around in a circle winding the rope around a floor to ceiling turnstile. After the paper is pressed, the sheets are hung up in the drying room.  The room is on the third floor of the main building and surrounded by windows on four sides, for maximum light.

When they are completely dried, they are put through a hydraulic press to flatten them out- the only stage where a modern method is utilized.

One may question why should these costly and time consuming archaic methods of papermaking be preserved, particularly when there has been so much mechanizations of the paper industry. But the answer is apparent, in modern mass production of paper, it is impossible to re-create the quality and beauty of these hand-made papers. The resurgence of interest in paper making in the U.S. indicate how important it is to preserve the techniques and secret methods of traditional paper making, as they are rapidly becoming extinct.”

About Arthur

The World of Paper Making



Arthur Secunda is a multi-talented artist that made his own paper and incorporated it into various images. He learned about the paper making process while working at the Richard de bas Paper Mill in Ambert, France. This is known as a historical monument and included on the list of places to visit. Guests can learn the history behind paper making and see first hand paper made using 15th century methods. 200 sheets are made each day; plain white paper is made in the Winter and colored paper is made in the Summer which is created through the addition of flowers.

Here at the museum, we have some manuscripts written by one of Arthur’s friends and fellow correspondent artist, Linda Jacobson. Unfortunately, it is written in French. Hopefully, we can get a full translation in the near future so we can learn more about Arthur’s experience at France’s historic paper mill.

Correspondence Art

Jeff Berner, a FLUXUS Member and Correspondence Artist

Jeff Berner

Although there are many more individuals we could inform you about; the correspondence series is going to wrap up with Jeff Berner, an artist that is currently alive and letting his creativity shine. He is known for various styles of art including photography, portraits, and illustrations for books and magazines. Berner even published some books which can be purchased through He also created a diorama series which was exhibited at galleries in Los Angeles and two additional locations in Paris. Berner has won awards and has taught at three different institutions including Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design in San Francisco. Berner currently lives in Paris with his wife Azar who does painting.

Now let’s take a stroll back in time, Berner became involved with the FLUXUS group back in 1965. What exactly is FLUXUS? Well, it is an international group of conceptual/performance artists. According to Henry Flynt, “Fluxus embraced many of the concepts and practices associated with the post-war avant-garde of western Europe and North America” and incorporated poetry, random music, art, and lettrism. The term fluxus actually comes from the Latin word for “flow” and was conceived by a gentleman by the name of George Maciunas who was a writer, performer, and composer. The first grouping of FLUXUS festivals took place in Germany. Furthermore, it was this movement that united artists throughout the world and many of those involved with FLUXUS took part in Correspondence Art. :)

Click on these links for some interesting information regarding this neat group/movement:


For more about Jeff Berner:

Correspondence Art

Correspondence Artist Cavellini Births Self-Historicization

Guglielmo Achille Cavellini was born 1914 in Brescia, Italy. He is known for contributing to many things such as the mail art movement, Experimentation period in Italian art, and combining Italian art with the American Pop Art style. Like many correspondent artists, Cavellini was also known for breaking out of boundaries that constrained artists from full expression. In addition, he was interested in making creations that used images from other artists. One of the most fascinating things about Cavellini would have to be his involvement in the development of the term historicization, which refers to the writing of oneself into history, both past and future.

Cavellini worked alongside well-known artists such as Andy Warhol and Ray Johnson. During a performance with an artist by the name of Higgins III, Cavellini’s body was painted with the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green. These colors became his trademark represented on envelopes that were sent out to fellow artists such as Arthur Secunda.

Rather than limit himself to paper, Cavellini felt inspired to move on to fabric and people.

Cavellini passed in 1990, but for almost 20 years he planned the San Francisco exhibit that took place this year. His son, Piero was at the opening reception.

Take a look at a video biography found on Youtube:


Correspondence Art

The Movements of a Controversial Italian Artist

An artist known for breaking out of the boundaries…Enrico Baj was born 1924 in Milan. In addition to being involved in the Correspondence Art Movement, Baj also played a role in shaping the avant-garde scene of the 50’s which contributed to the formation of what is referred to as Nuclear Art. Through COBRA and the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, this style flourished as a result of the close interaction between artists that shared the passion to create something that broke down the “ism” stereotypes that academia attaches to art. Baj was interested in politics, writing, and radical surrealism. Therefore, it makes sense that he also served as both an attorney and critic during his life. A common theme reflected in his art is his anarchist attitude. Baj passed away in 2003, but his work lives on. The Friedrich Petzel Gallery presented an exhibit in 2007 of Baj’s works, some of which had never been displayed within the United States until that time.

For further reading, check out the following:

Correspondence Art

Correspondence Friendship with an Assemblagist

Another one of Arthur Secunda’s correspondence art friends was Gordon Wagner, born in Redondo Beach, California in 1915. Wagner became known as an assemblagist, an artist who creates art by assembly a variety of parts. He also did paintings and poetry to express his creativity. A painter by the name of Norman Chamberlain was his mentor; he helped Wagner connect with artists that inspired him. It was on a trip to France that he met other great artists, including Picasso! Over time, Wagner realized he was more interested in art that contained elements of mysticism and fantasy and was drawn to a different type of artist, like Dali, for example.

Gordon Wagner 1

image from:

Wagner first studied engineering, but like many artists, he followed his heart and ended up at the Chouinard Art Institute. His engineering skills were an art-related craft that he used for design purposes. It wasn’t until 1958 that Wagner became an art instructor. His engineering background was evident in his artwork especially the mobiles and other assemblages. Supposedly, many of his first assemblages were made from objects he found on the beach, and in later years, from railroad tracks. Wagner was interested in learning about other cultures and felt drawn to “carnival” themed scenery. He wanted his work to symbolize some component of society. Like Arthur Secunda, Wagner also played a role in the world of space, but rather than being a color consultant for NASA, he was involved in the engineering component during World War II. It was said that this influenced his style, making structure a bigger focus for Wagner.

Wagner passed away in 1987 after losing a battle with cancer at the age of 72. His funeral was adorned with various assemblages that were made up of wood and parts of office machines representing his passion to represent a story via aesthetic recycling. Perhaps it was Wagner that initiated the Steampunk style before it developed into what exists today.

Click on the links below for additional reading:

Gordon Wagner art 1-Railroad Man gordon wagner art 2-The Mexican Night Clerk