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Color My World

Collecting color
Toney Berlant (American, born 1941)<br><i>Mountain Journey</i>, 1991<br>Found metal collage over plywood with steel brads
zoom Toney Berlant (American, born 1941)
Mountain Journey, 1991
Found metal collage over plywood with steel brads


A work of art 36 feet tall cannot be seen all at once. Your eye must take you on a journey, from the floor to the ceiling three stories up.

You might start at the bright red tentlike shape near the floor. Hop from there through cool splashes of blue to a patch of yellow. Tiptoe across a slick of brown to a shower of white. Then climb beneath cool greens to a high place for a rest, and gaze up at the expanse of blue beyond. You’re almost there.

California artist Tony Berlant was asked to create a work of art especially for the lobby of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. He collected ideas for Mountain Journey from many sources, including the Institute’s galleries. Mountain Journey is tall and narrow, like the museum’s Chinese scroll paintings. Berlant remembered his own travels to China’s sacred mountains, often pictured in scroll paintings. And he recalled the view from the plane as he arrived in Minnesota. The cool blue splashes may remind you of the state’s many lakes seen from above.

Berlant gathered the colorful materials of Mountain Journey from some surprising places. His studio is filled with tons of metal scrap—old signs, sides of trucks, tin trays, painted sheet metal—sorted by color into bins. He cut shapes from these scraps and nailed them onto plywood panels, combining the patches of color into a completely new vision. Here and there, however, you can glimpse a hint of their origins.

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1. An early sketch for Tony Berlant's Mountain Journey.


November 2004