I chose to view Tony Berlant's I, painted in 1982, is currently located in the Permanent Collection of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Because it is not in an exhibition, but is part of the permanent collection, I did not look for a theme in the display. However, the work's placement in a permanent collection did not the surrounding atmosphere less significant. The museum was very bright and neutral, providing an unobtrusive backdrop for the work. However, the museum was also very loud; noises seemed amplified in the open spaces, which detracted from the work's presentation.
I is a mixed media piece, consisting of tin, nails, plywood and oil paint on canvas. The work is 70 1/2 x 66 ¾ x 3 ¼ in. (179.1 x 169.5 x 8.3 cm). The centerpiece of the work is an oil painting of Tony Berlant, which was painted by William Earl Singer. Anyone familiar with William Earl Singer's work knows that he is an amazing painter. His oil paintings have a very lifelike quality. In fact, Singer uses vibrant colors, but he does so in a realistic manner. In the painting which forms the centerpiece of I, Singer places Berlant in the center of the painting in a boldly colored red sweater, with a black band at the neck. In the painting Berlant appears to be in his lower 20s and Singer has emphasized his dark eyes and dark hair. In fact, Berlant looks like the stereotype of a Latin lover from the 1960s in the painting. It reminded me of nothing more than Tony from West Side Story. The figure in the painting is centered against a backdrop that appears to be a desert landscape. Scrubby green vegetation appears in the foreground, backed up by red rocks, which meet a brilliant blue sky, tinged with clouds. .
Singer's painting forms the center of Berlant's work. The painting is set in a series of boxes, which appear to be constructed of canvas. The effect is almost like a painting within a series of decorative mats.