"Wallace Berman – Why I Collected His Work"

Diana Zlotnick, as published in Newsletter on the Arts May 27, 1992

The search for a freshness, a vitality not duplicated by other experiences led me to Wallace Berman. Berman's lifestyle intrigued me. He lived in a 1 1/2 room cabin off Beverly Glen, devoting himself to art, with no outside job. Was it also that many people were clustering around him? No, it was the power of his work.

When the first verifax collage became part of my collection, I was affected by its potency.

When the first verifax collage became part of my collection, I was affected by its potency. Alive and inspirational, Berman's collaged images of hand-held transistor radios emitted a melange of silent sounds. Berman took the Verifax system, one of the earlier paper copying devices, and adapted it as an art process. Working with sensitized paper and developing fluid, in a method akin to photography, Berman manipulated imagery by the random pouring of chemical fluids. Varying the length of exposure to sunlight created patterns of light and dark. Figurative imagery was intensified and diffused by freezing the action with black and white: bleeding sepia color created drips, puddles, streams and shadows.

Hungry Eyes

Diana Zlotnick and Post-War Art in Los Angeles

Diana Zlotnick arranging artworks at home, accompanied by her family Photo: Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA

A voracious collector, comm­­unity builder, and champion of emergent contemporary artists, Diana Zlotnick tapped into the Los Angeles art world at a particularly charged moment of post-war creative ferment. Today, the art milieu of the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s Los Angeles has taken on nearly mythic qualities, conjuring Bohemian fetes in canyons, the experimental openness of CalArts, Venice Beach warehouse studios, and, broadly, an explosion of material and conceptual inquiry through performance, sculpture, video, painting, publication, and more. Zlotnick immersed herself wholeheartedly in this atmosphere, led by fearless curiosity, dedication, and deeply felt connections to the works that she brought home.

Collect art that cancels out the rest of the world…—Diana Zlotnick, Newsletter on the Arts, 2013

Born in 1927 and raised in Los Angeles, Diana Zlotnick (née Shirley) attended Fairfax High School and would later support herself as a schoolteacher. She met Harry Zlotnick at a USO dance, and, after a whirlwind romance, the couple married on July 3, 1955. Being a schoolteacher was decidedly not Ms. Zlotnick’s calling, nor was being a dental hygienist (she flunked the program). Encouraged by her husband, who was able to support the family as a veterinarian, Zlotnick stopped working—and started collecting. With determination, savvy, and a healthy dose of chutzpah, she went on to amass an extensive collection from major artists as their stars were rising – among those who most captivated her were Wallace Berman, Chris Burden, Llyn Foulkes, George Herms, Channa Horwitz, Gloria Kisch, Ed Ruscha, and Richard and Shirley Pettibone.

There aren't many collectors like Diana Zlotnick, though there ought to be...Not content to play the passive art consumer, she quickly began circumventing the gallery system, approaching artists directly — visiting studios, exploring work in depth and developing real relationships.

Doug Harvey, L.A. Weekly, October 27, 2005