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 Tony Berlant  (1941 - )

About: Tony Berlant
 

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: assemblage

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A California artist known for his collages and assemblages composed of colored metal pieces that have been nailed together to form a single image, Tony Berlant uses discarded metal and tin scraps from cookie tins to TV trays.

Berlant was born in New York City in 1941 but moved to California at a young age. He studied at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles for one year in 1959. He then attended the University of California Los Angeles from which he graduated with a Master's Degree in Fine Art in 1964.

While Berlant studied art as an undergraduate, he became interested in collage and influenced by prolific artists at the time such as Robert Rauschenberg and Edward Kleinholz. He restricted himself to the medium of found metal, cutting and bending them, then hammering the bits to a plywood base. His early work reflects the influences of Jim Dine and Claes Oldenburg. His pieces have a unique textural element in that they are nailed together by steel brads, giving the appearance of having been stitched. Berlant eventually started working with covered plywood cubes and house shaped boxes around 1964. He covered the surface with recognizable imagery in an abstract pattern seemingly more personal than his earlier pieces.

He remained in the Los Angeles area and held his first solo exhibition at the David Stuart Gallery in Los Angeles, (1963). His work was later shown at the Wichita Art Museum, Kansas (1971), the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1973) and the Los Angeles County Museum (1967). He has done public commissions for the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the San Francisco Airport. Berlant is also known as an avid collector of Navajo blankets, and has traded some of his collected pieces for artwork from famous contemporary artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Willem de Kooning and Frank Stella.


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