Tony Berlant

Born in New York City, Tony Berlant had his breakthrough moment when he was awarded the Los Angeles Contemporary Art Council’s New Talent Purchase Award in 1964. Berlant is best known for his collages and metal cubes sculptures, often constructed from found materials and especially tin – a material that entered his vocabulary after a chance encounter with a pile of discarded advertising signs. Employing both painterly aesthetics and an architectural approach, Berlant embraces a fragmentary approach to creating semi-abstract works, and as Kohn Gallery notes, has been “instrumental in establishing the aesthetic sensibility of the West Coast Pop Art movement.”

Berlant attended UCLA, where he received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in painting, followed by a Master’s degree in sculpture in 1963. He would then teach at his alma mater from 1965 to 1969 and go on to build a successful career over the course of six decades.

In addition to his own practice, Berlant has emerged as an avid collector of Mimbres pottery, painted ceramic wares that were created by the Mimbres people of southwestern New Mexico between 850 and 1150 CE. In 1974, Berlant co-founded the Mimbres Foundation, an organization responsible for bringing together the first-ever photographic archive of known Mimbres figurative pottery. Berlant’s personal collection was included in the 2018 LACMA exhibition Decoding Mimbres Painting: Ancient Ceramics of the American Southwest, which he co-curated.

Berlant’s works are included in the institutional collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hammer Museum the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others.

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