Matt Mullican, “102 Signs for a Museum Fence”

Matt Mullican, 102 Signs for a Museum Fence, 2006

The work 102 Signs for a Museum Fence was created in 2006 for the fence around the construction site of the new Museion building, to inform the public, through the power of its signs, that this would be a home for contemporary art. A place that would engage with topical issues and interact with local people.

For this large-scale fence installation, Matt Mullican (b. 1951, Santa Monica, CA) used the system of signs he has been developing since the early seventies, and with which he seeks to express his concept of the five worlds we live in. Each of these five worlds is assigned a specific color: red for the realm of imagination (Subjective); black for language (Sign); green for matter (Elements); blue for the everyday world (World unframed); and yellow for objects or processes to which we devote special attention, for example in art (World framed).

Some of these signs are self-explanatory, while others are inventions by the artist, like the signs for birth and death, or for demons and angels. The sign for human imagination is a human head with a circle inside it that can be understood as a symbolic gateway to Mullican’s “Imaginary Universe.”