32
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PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTOR

Mark Bradford
SMOKEY
Estimate
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UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Double Dagger
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Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 1,150,000 GBP
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32

PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTOR

Mark Bradford
SMOKEY
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 1,150,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London

Mark Bradford
B. 1961
SMOKEY
mixed media collage on canvas
152.4 by 182.8 cm. 60 by 72 in.
Executed in 2003.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Lombard-Freid Fine Arts, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Columbus, Wexner Center for the Arts; Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art; San Francisco, Museum of Modern Art, Mark Bradford, May 2010 - May 2012, no. 5, pp. 104 and 131, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Mark Bradford’s practice defies categorisation: neither painter nor sculptor, he uses found materials to create richly textured and monumental collages in which scavenged paper is applied to canvas and built-up, layer upon layer. Belonging to the earliest phase of Bradford’s mature work, Smokey (2003) possesses a gentle filmic quality and mysterious haziness, character traits that owe much to Bradford’s principal compositional element – permanent wave endpapers. Bridging the realms of abstract seriality and social experience, the present work encapsulates the essence of Bradford’s crucial contribution to contemporary art practice.

Bradford’s richly textured collage offers glimpses of its material makeup: the top surface gives way to expose what lies underneath and at the margins – fragments of bright colour. Searching the total of Bradford’s abstract field for some sort of representational source, the uncertain grid may provide a key, gesturing ever so loosely towards maps, aerial views, and visions of a city. In this manner we are reminded of Richard Diebenkorn, whose Ocean Park series translated the artist’s Californian locale into grid-like colour field compositions. However, unlike the formalistic project of Diebenkorn, Bradford’s work is more entrenched in the vicissitudes of his social experience. As curator Christopher Burden has argued: “Bradford’s early formal investigations into the material properties of permanent-wave end papers and certain chemicals used to treat and straighten hair, seen in works like Enter and Exit the New Negro (2000) and Strawberry (2002), were a calculated way to enter the deeply freighted historical conversation of abstract painting from a vantage point that was pointedly grounded in his social experience and that forced the hermeticism of abstraction to account for the unrelenting specificity of materials” (Christopher Bedford, ‘Against Abstraction’, in: Exh. Cat., Colombus, Wexner Center for the Arts (and travelling), Mark Bradford, 2010-12, p. 12).

The material that makes up the many layers of Bradford’s work is mostly found or repurposed paper: fragments of billboards rescued from the streets of his sprawling Leimert Park neighbourhood in South Central Los Angeles; flyers and posters that he pulls from construction site barriers and telephone poles; and endpapers repurposed from his mother’s salon where he worked during his youth. These materials anchor Bradford’s collages, adding personal, cultural, and geographic layers to the many that accrue atop his canvases. The artist’s methodology is both additive and destructive, building dense layers of matter only to erode them. He works quickly, intuitively, adding and subtracting until he is able to balance the energy of his compositions. In the pursuit of this equilibrium, Bradford’s collages invoke a dialogue with chance – materials inform the direction of his work, which ultimately comes to represents an organic call and response between the artist and his medium. The unpredictability of Bradford’s method speaks to the role of chance in the abstract paintings of Gerhard Richter of the late 1980s and 1990s, works in which oil paint is applied, scraped and accreted to create compositions that privilege happenstance. Nonetheless, unlike oil paint, Bradford’s raw material has a social history. By using found paper that is rooted to the streets and spaces of the neighbourhood he has lived in all of his life, Bradford’s work prompts us, to quote art historian Robert Storr, “to wonder how many generations of urgent announcements or hit-and-run appeals to credulity we are being confronted within the instant that we become able to bring into focus the word and image pileup Bradford has amassed” (Robert Storr, ‘And what I assume you shall assume…’, in: Ibid., p. 42). In dialogue with the material culture and economic realities of his community as much as with traditions of twentieth-century painting, Bradford has forged a new image space within the history of abstraction.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London