Mark Bradford: Alphabet, November 2010 - March 2011
Salon Style, March - June 2015
The Bearden Project, November 2011 - March 2012
Freestyle, April - June 2001
In his fascinating aesthetic investigation of the contemporary urban experience, artist Mark Bradford puts into thrilling practice The Studio Museum in Harlem’s identity as a celebrated metropolitan nexus for the dynamic exchange of creative ideas. Renowned for his large-scale works made from layers of salvaged paper, Bradford’s signature vernacular of selectively layering, scoring and bleaching areas of his canvas in quasi-archaeological fashion allows the artist to trace the human presence by its own discarded signifiers. Echoing the cumulative and subtractive nature of the artist’s collage/décollage practice, his captivating paintings merge complex layers of personal and socio-significance to create a kaleidoscopic vision for the inherent decay and subsequent regenerative vibrancy of metropolitan life. Bradford’s expressive civic tapestries embody the urban experience as lived; describing his practice, Bradford notes, “I’m like a modern-day flâneur. I like to walk through the city and find details and then abstract them and make them my own. I’m not speaking for a community or trying to make a sociopolitical point. At the end, it’s my mapping, my subjectivity.” (The artist cited in “Market>Place,” Art21, PBS, November 2011)
Celebrated as amongst the most influential artists of his generation, Bradford credits the breakthrough moment in his career to Thelma Golden when, in 2000, the then newly-installed deputy director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem first visited the artist in Los Angeles. Of the visit, Golden recalls, “He was a fully mature artist at that point. He had an incredible sense of himself as an artist, and an enormous ability to understand art history—its possibilities and its limits. I knew I was going to work with him for the rest of my life.” (Calvin Tomkins, “What Else Can Art Do? (The Many Layers of Mark Bradford’s Work)”, The New Yorker, June 22, 2015, n.p.) Immediately upon encountering Bradford’s searing large-scale canvases, Golden invited the artist to participate in the critically-acclaimed 2001 group show Freestyle. In the years following Freestyle, which launched the artist’s meteoric rise to widespread recognition, Bradford’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at such renowned international institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the SFMOMA, and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston, amongst others. Testifying to the artist’s significance upon an international stage, Bradford was most recently featured in the US Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, where his impactful exhibition Tomorrow is Another Day was met with widespread critical and public acclaim.
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