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Mark Bradford

 (born 1961)
Mark Bradford is active/lives in California.  Mark Bradford is known for large-scale abstract collage-paper items.

Mark Bradford

Biography from the Archives of askART

The following article is from The New York Times

Mark Bradford Will Represent U.S. at Venice Biennale
By Randy Kennedy, April 18, 2016

Mark Bradford, the highly regarded abstract painter, has been chosen as the United States’ representative to the next Venice Biennale, opening in May 2017. The United States pavilion, with Mr. Bradford’s work, will be organized by Christopher Bedford, director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, which was chosen by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to be the commissioning institution for the exhibition.

Mr. Bradford has recently used his influence to help found an arts-based social-services center in the South Los Angeles neighborhood where he grew up. He said in a telephone interview on Monday that he could not yet discuss details of his plans for the pavilion, but that the work would certainly touch on the political and social context in which he, as an African-American artist, has always worked.

“The black body is always a heavy politicized body, in America in particular, and so carrying that burden is kind of a birthright for me,” he said, adding: “I’m thinking a lot about what matters to me right now. And I think this is a time to put that on the table.” (Mr. Bradford is not the first African-American artist to represent the United States in Venice, but there have not been many over more than seven decades: Sam Gilliam in a group show in 1972; Robert Colescott in 1997; Fred Wilson in 2003.)

Mr. Bedford, who will be the show’s curator along with Katy Siegel, the Rose Art Museum’s curator at large, said in a telephone interview that a “collision of various events” led to his championing of Mr. Bradford for the honor, one of them being the social upheaval in recent years regarding issues like race, gay marriage, immigration and social justice.

“All of that seemed to me to make Mark particularly topical right now,” Mr. Bedford said, adding: “What he has managed to decouple, in a pretty radical way, is his work as a studio painter and his work as an activist and advocate. If we were successful in Venice, I think something like that would happen there, too.”

The selection of Mr. Bradford is a coup for the small but admired Rose Museum. In 2009 the Rose’s very existence was threatened when, in the depths of the recession, Brandeis University’s trustees voted to “transition” the museum — which was founded in 1961 and houses works by de Kooning, Warhol, Lichtenstein and other 20th-century luminaries — into a teaching center and gallery and to conduct “an orderly sale” of its works to raise money. The university later backed off its plans to sell works and, after settling a lawsuit brought by the museum’s supporters, pledged to keep the Rose “a university art museum open to the public.”

Biography from the Archives of askART
A collage artist based in Los Angeles, Mark Bradford began making abstract collages in the 1990s by using paper products from his mother's hair salon in South Central Los Angeles.  He combined hairpins, tissue end papers for permanents and dyes for coloration. 

"Bradford transforms materials scavenged from the street into wall-sized collages and installations that respond to the impromptu networks-underground economies, migrant communities, or popular appropriate of abandoned public space-that emerge within a city.  . . .Bradford's videos and map-like, multilayered paper collages refer not only to the organization of streets and buildings in downtown Los Angeles, but also to images of crowds, ranging from civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s to contemporary protests concering immigration issues." (art:21)

Bradford earned a BFA (1995) and an MFA (1997) from the California Institute of Arts in Valencia, and then in 2001 earned much attention in the exhibition "Freestyle" of the Studio Museum of Harlem, dedicated to emerging African-American artists.  His entry titled Enter and Exit the New Negro, is a large-scale canvas covered with hundreds of end papers arranged in dozens of rows and colored with hair dye.

In more recent pieces, he has incorporated copy paper to suggest technology and the future and remnants of billboards and posters to speak of memory and landscape.

Bradford's work is represented in the 2004-2005 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach.  His entry, Game Recognize Game, is composed of paper-mache soccer balls in front of a wall-size collage that has thousands of small pieces of paper arranged to look like an industrial explosion or perhaps the urban grid of Los Angeles.

In 2008, Mark Bradford, working with New York curator, Dan Cameron, became part of a movement to re-vitalize art activity in New Orleans, which had been much curtailed from Hurricane Katrina.  Bradford's project is builing a structure symbolizing an ark that will be placed at the 1.9 Center for the Arts in the Ninth Ward.



Shana Nys Dambrot, "Dye Another Day",  ARTnews, November 2004, p. 141

Carly Berwick, "Encouraging Wards", ARTnews, October 2008, pp. 66-67

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About  Mark Bradford

Born:  1961 - Los Angeles, California
Known for:  large-scale abstract collage-paper items