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Bernice Bing and the History of her Quantum Series

In 1998 a new client asked me to build him a collection of overlooked postwar artists and their best paintings that he could eventually donate to a museum.


One of the first of the 75 artworks he bought from me from our collection was a large Bernice Bing (1936-1998) painting titled "Velasquez Family," dated 1961. It was of superb quality and had a strong relationship to the artwork of Joan Brown.








In the fall and winter of 1984-85, Ms. Bing visited Korea and Japan and traveled extensively in China, where she presented slide lectures on American Abstract Expressionism to art students. She studied Chinese calligraphy with Wang Dong Ling and Chinese landscape painting with Professor Yang at the Zhejiang Art Academy in Hangzhou. This experience has inspired the unification of Eastern and Western ideologies in her recent abstract paintings.

After serving over two decades in the development of community arts programs, Ms. Bing returned to the United States to concentrate on her art. In 1991, Ms. Bing was invited to do a one-person exhibition at the SOMArts Cultural Center Gallery, San Francisco (SOMArts), in which she presented new work. A retrospective of her work again was presented at SOMArts in 1999. 


Bernice Bing visualized the Quantum Universe as one that is constantly expanding and contracting. She utilizes this theory in her Quantum 1 and 2  series. Thus the Quantum series expands by creating additional paintings and contracts by placing them into collections. The works were produced from 1985 until 1991.


Selections from interviews with Bernice Bing by Moira Roth and Diane Tani, August 13 and 24, 1991


Bernice remarked, "Somehow the concept of "quantum" for me has a lot to do with the new kind of thinking in my art. My most recent work responds to ideas about the quantum. It is only fairly recently that I have been reading about the New Physics: I was very inspired by The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra and the "Quantum Healing" by DeePak Chopra, MD, he was using the human body as a metaphor. I was inspired by both these concepts, the new physics and the human body.


During this period, I was planning my one-person Somar exhibition, and out of my senses, I conceptualized the Quantum idea visually. One aspect of quantum theory is that the particles of the sub-atom community can be either an entity unit in itself or become a wave (movement energy). I began painting each panel (unit) separately, which were visually Independent from each other. There was not an apparent relationship between each unit. However, an intuitive sense of the total image was maintained throughout the work in process. The visual elements which kept my focus of the total image involved-color, dynamic of calligraphic line/ideograms, and organic forms of nature."


"Chinese calligraphy has been evolving for six thousand years whereas in our western society we are but primitives experiencing a new aesthetic.  In my abstract imagery I am attempting to create  a new synthesis with a very old world."


We continue our agreement with the estate to further Bernice's legacy by publishing additional information on her Quantum series and artwork. Bernice considered this series important as it defines her work from 1985 forward from her travels and studies in China. Jeanne and I have been serious art collectors for the past fifty years working with the estates of hundreds of artists who studied at the California School of Fine Arts as Bernice had. Our experience allows us to recognize genius in an artist immediately upon seeing their work. We do not judge an artist by what others think of them. We always think outside the box and have made many major discoveries during our careers.  Genius does not guarantee an artist financial success during one's lifetime as the artist is working at such a high intellectual level. Very few individuals understand the importance of what the artist is communicating until it is explained by the museum publications written by writers and editors who do understand it. 


The current Quantum images are minimal, as these are the only ones we have found. We will photograph the original artworks from both series to be published on this site in the foreseeable future.


Quantum 1 in the SOMArts Cultural Center exhibition is black & white and comprises forty-five works, each 26 x 40 inches. 














"So this Quantum Series will be made up of ninety-nine individual black and white pattern panels to be installed on the wall of SOMArts, where each element will become part of the larger image: That is all I can say right now because the exciting part of it is that I have been working only on these individual pieces while keeping in mind the total outcome: Yet the total will not be known until the installation."  Bernice included forty-five Quantum 1 panels in the SOMArts exhibition. Thirty image panels, four black, and eleven blank panels.












Bernice Bing "Velasquez Family" d. 1961, oil on canvas

Bernice Bing "Quantum 1"


Quantum 2 is composed of color and twenty-five quantum panels, including two black, two red, and twenty-one color images; each panel is 26 x 40 inches.

Bernice Bing had her second exhibition of her Quantum 1 & 2 series at the Asian Arts Centre in New York in 1993.

Bernice Bing, SOMArts exhibition, 1991


Bernice Bing, Quantum 2 Series
Mixed media laid on art board
d. 1992, Signature verso
26" x 40"


Bernice Bing, Quantum 2 Series
Mixed media laid on art board
d. 1992, Signature verso
26" x 40"

Below are additional works that Bernice Bing created for the Quantum 2 series in 1992, as she had stated that the series could be expanded by creating additional works or contracting by the acquisition of works by museums or private collectors.

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