Mark Bradford

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For the football player, see Mark Bradford (American football).
Mark Bradford
Born 1961
Los Angeles
Alma mater California Institute of the Arts and Edinburgh Primary School
Known for abstract painting, performance art

Mark Bradford (born 1961 Los Angeles, California) is an American artist living and working in Los Angeles.

Early life and education[edit]

Bradford was born and raised in South Los Angeles.[1] His mother Janice Banks owned a beauty salon in Leimert Park.[2][3] Bradford and his family moved to a then largely white neighborhood[4] in Santa Monica when he was 11, but his mother still maintained her business in the old neighborhood,[5] where Bradford worked some time.[6] When Bradford graduated high school, he obtained his hairdresser's license and went to work at his mother's salon.[7]

Bradford began his studies at the California Institute of the Arts in 1991 at the age of 30.[8] Here, he earned a BFA in 1995 and an MFA in 1997.[9]


Bradford is known for grid-like abstract paintings combining collage with paint. His collage Orbit (2007), contains a magazine image of a basketball placed at the heart of a dense lattice of LA streets. Created by the cumulative and subtractive processes of collage and décollage, layered with paint, Orbit appears like an aerial view of a contorting, mutating, and decaying city whose tiny, intricate street grids can no longer maintain its structural integrity. Bradford’s improvisational command of these large areas suggests the formidable energy of mass consumption and, perhaps more importantly, its counterpart, the mass generation of detritus.

Bradford's A Truly Rich Man is One Whose Children Run into His Arms Even When His Hands Are Empty (2008), nearly 9 feet wide and 9 feet tall, according to Maxwell Heller in The Brooklyn Rail, "calls to mind the charred and shattered windshields of cars burned in riots—black, webbed with streaks of light, sleek. If studied section by section, it offers traces of the artist’s sensual, tactile process, revealing delicate layers of found material sliced and sanded, lacquered and pasted until transformed."[10]

Bradford’s practice also encompasses video, print and installation.[11] In his installation Mithra (2008), Bradford shipped a 70 x 20 x 25 ft ark constructed from salvaged plywood barricade fencing to New Orleans for Prospect New Orleans, an exhibition of contemporary art commemorating Hurricane Katrina.[12] That same year, he created an installation inspired by Hurricane Katrina on the roof of the Steve Turner Contemporary Gallery, across the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.[13] The piece—an enormous SOS sign visible only from the air—said simply "HELP US."[14]

In 2012, Bradford narrated the soundtrack to the 30-minute, site-specific dance duet Framework by choreographer Benjamin Millepied in conjunction with the show “The Painting Factory: Abstraction after Warhol" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.[15]

In 2015, Mark Bradford created 'Pull Painting 1', a site-specific wall drawing inspired by Sol LeWitt along a 60-foot wall in the Wadsworth Atheneum as part of the museum's MATRIX 172 programme. For this, Bradford applied dense layers of vibrantly coloured paper, paint, and rope, which he then sanded, peeled, stripped, and cut away from the wall to create a vivid and textured composition.

The same year, Bradford created 'Waterfall' (2015) for his exhibition titled 'Be Strong Boquan' at Hauser & Wirth 18th Street, New York. 'Waterfall' is composed of remnants of paper and rope that were peeled away from a pull painting whose surface was built up by layering canvas with alternating sheets of billboard paper and rope. Through the process of pulling string across the canvas, Bradford created long fibrous ribbons of coloured paper that revealed the archaeology of its host.

Of the process, Bradford says, "I decided to make a three-dimensional painting that doesn’t have a frame around it. It’s the same fragments of paper, just less formal. It’s part sculpture, part painting—an in-between thing."

Other projects[edit]

In 2009, the Getty Museum invited Bradford to do a project of his choice with its education department. He chose teachers rather than students as his primary audience, bringing 10 other artists - including Michael Joo, Catherine Opie, Amy Sillman, and Kara Walker - on board to develop a set of free lesson plans for K-12 teachers.[16]

Art + Practice[edit]

In 2013, Mark Bradford, the philanthropist Eileen Harris Norton and neighbourhood activist Allan Dicastro established Art + Practice, an organisation based in Leimert Park that encourages engagement with the arts and supports local 16- to 24-year-olds who are transitioning out of foster care. Bradford and Dicastro are both long-term residents of South Los Angeles and have witnessed first-hand how a lack of educational and social resources can impact on the community. The pair created Art + Practice as a developmental platform for transitional age youth, stressing the importance of creative activity and practical skills for personal transformation and social change.

'John Outterbridge: Rag Man' opened at Art + Practice on December 8, 2015. The exhibition presents work made during the past decade by the groundbreaking Los Angeles-based assemblage artist John Outterbridge. The first exhibition, at the Art + Practice gallery space on South Leimert Boulevard, opened February 28, 2015 and showcased new work by L.A.-based conceptual artist Charles Gaines (artist). The show was held in conjunction with a Hammer Museum survey of early works, "Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989" which went on view at the Westwood Museum, Los Angeles, on February 7, 2015.


In 2017, The Baltimore Museum of Art and The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, will present Mark Bradford as the representative for the United States at La Biennale di Venezia 57th International Art Exhibition.

The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has commissioned Mark Bradford to do a site-specific painting that will occupy the entire circumference of the building's second-floor inner galleries. At 397 linear feet of wall space the work will be Bradford's largest site-specific work to date. The commission will be on view in late 2017 to coincide with a solo exhibition of his work at the gallery.

In 2015 Bradford unveiled Elgin Gardens, a special commission for 1221 Avenue of the Americas at Rockefeller Center, New York NY. In 2015 Bradford presented ‘Scorched Earth’, at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles CA. The exhibition showcased a suite of new paintings, a multimedia and a major painting on the Lobby Wall. In June 2015 'Mark Bradford: Sea Monsters', toured to Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Netherlands from the Rose Art Museum (2014) September and in January 2015 and he presented "Tears of a Tree", a new body of work at The Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai, China.

In 2014, Bradford presented The King's Mirror, a 100-feet-long mural which consists of 300 individual works mounted on plywood each measuring 22 by 28 inches and which remained in situ at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University for a year.[17] In Fall 2014, Bradford's sculpture Bell Tower – which is modelled after a Jumbotron screen[18] – was unveiled at Tom Bradley International Terminal of the Los Angeles International Airport, suspended above a passenger security screening area on the mezzanine level of the terminal.

For one day only in August 2013, "Project Hermés", a work by Mark Bradford installed in a private home in La Jolla, California, opened to the public before the building was eventually demolished.[19]

Bradford has participated in the 9th Gwangju Biennale (2012) and has previously exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2012),[20][21] the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2011),[22] the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2011),[23] at The Ohio State University (2010),[24] Sikkema Jenkins Gallery,[25][26] 'Street Level' (2007) at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, at the Wexner Center for the Arts, USA Today at the Royal Academy in London, 'In Site' at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the Centro Cultural de Tijuana, 'ARCO 2003' in Madrid and in the Sao Paulo Biennial (2006), Whitney Biennial (2006), Liverpool Biennial (2006).

In 2001, Thelma Golden included Bradford's hairdressing end-paper collages 'Enter and Exit the New Negro' (2000)[27] and 'Dreadlocks caint tell me shit' (2000) in the breakthrough 'Freestyle' exhibition of 28 African American artists at the Studio Museum in Harlem.[28] The use of hairdressing endpapers alludes to Bradford's former career working as a hairdresser in his mother's hair salon in Leimert Park, South Central Los Angeles. On the material, he says, 'I liked the end papers. I liked the social fabric they represented, and so I built this vocabulary, using only paper.'

In 1998, Bradford had a solo show, 'Distribution', at L.A.’s Deep River, a gallery started by Daniel Joseph Martinez and artist Glenn Kaino.[29]


In 2016, Bradford was awarded the High Museum of Art’s David C. Driskell Prize. In 2014, Bradford was presented with the US Department of State’s Medal of Arts. In 2013 he was elected as a National Academician by the National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts in New York. He is also a recipient of a grant from the MacArthur Fellows Program (2009) (also called the "MacArthur Genius Award").;[30] the Wexner Center Residency Award (2009);[31] the Bucksbaum Award, granted by The Whitney Museum of American Art (2006); the United States Artists fellowship (2006),[32] the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2003), the Nancy Graves Foundation Grant (2002) and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant(2002).[33]).

Art market[edit]

In 2015 Bradford's mixed-media collage abstract "Constitution IV" (2013) was sold for $5.8 million at Phillips, an auction high for the artist, just months after 'Smear' (2015) was sold for $4.4 million, (the upper estimate was $700,000) at Sotheby's New York NY.[34] The artist has been exclusively represented by Hauser & Wirth since 2015; he had previously shown with Sikkema Jenkins & Co. and White Cube.[35]


2008 Life on Mars, the 2008 Carnegie International[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Holland Cotter (January22,2003)Tracking Racial Identity, But Not Defined by It New York Times.
  2. ^ Ernest Hardy (June 11, 2006), The Eye Of L.a. / Mark Bradford Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ Carolina A. Miranda (June 19, 2015), After traveling the world, L.A. artist Mark Bradford gets a solo show in his hometown Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Holland Cotter (December 23, 2010), Tracking Racial Identity, But Not Defined by It New York Times.
  5. ^ Ernest Hardy (June 11, 2006), The Eye Of L.a. / Mark Bradford Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ Dorothy Spears (December 45th,2010), Hoop Dreams of His Own Design New York Times.
  7. ^ Carolina A. Miranda (June 19, 2015), After traveling the world, L.A. artist Mark Bradford gets a solo show in his hometown Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ Charmaine Picard (May 7, 2010), Mark Bradford on class and identity in South Central LA The Art Newspaper.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Heller, Maxwell (February 2011). "The Mark Bradford Show". The Brooklyn Rail. 
  11. ^ Mark Bradford White Cube.
  12. ^ Thomas H. Maugh II (September 22, 2009), Artist Mark Bradford, USC's Elyn Saks win MacArthur grants Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^ Christopher Knight (September 24, 2008), Mark Bradford's post-Katrina ark for New Orleans Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ Thomas H. Maugh II (September 22, 2009), Artist Mark Bradford, USC's Elyn Saks win MacArthur grants Los Angeles Times.
  15. ^ Laura Bleiberg (June 25, 2012), Benjamin Millepied collaborating with Mark Bradford at MOCA Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ Jori Finkel (June 17, 2010), Mark Bradford leads Kara Walker, Cathy Opie and more to create online teacher resource for Getty Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ Charlotte Burns (September 8, 2014), Mark Bradford maps exploitation at the Rose Art Museum The Art Newspaper.
  18. ^ Christopher Michno (March 27, 2013), Mark Bradford: Texting While Painting Artillery.
  19. ^ Helen Stoilas (August 1, 2013), Collector's difficult neighbour inspires artist Mark Bradford's installation The Art Newspaper.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Mark Bradford". Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Holland Cotter (December 23, 2010), Tracking Racial Identity, But Not Defined by It New York Times.
  28. ^ Ernest Hardy (June 11, 2006), The Eye Of L.a. / Mark Bradford Los Angeles Times.
  29. ^ Brian Keith Jackson (September 24, 2007), How I Made It: Mark Bradford New York Magazine.
  30. ^
  31. ^ Mark Bradford White Cube.
  32. ^ Thomas H. Maugh II (September 22, 2009), Artist Mark Bradford, USC's Elyn Saks win MacArthur grants Los Angeles Times.
  33. ^ Painters and Sculptors Grant Program Recipients Joan Mitchell Foundation.
  34. ^ Scott Reyburn (May 13, 2015), A Rothko Tops Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Auction New York Times.
  35. ^ Charlotte Burns (May 13, 2015), Artists change gallery allegiances The Art Newspaper.
  36. ^ "Mark Bradford", Life on Mars, 5.3.08-1.11.09 Archived April 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]