b. 1961, United States

Mark Bradford Artworks

Mark Bradford's work predominantly takes the form of papier mâché painting-sculpture hybrids. Often the artist will incorporate found materials embedded with their own meaning.

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Abstract Collages

The artist often incorporated singed permanent-wave end papers and cellophane used in hair dyeing in early abstract collages such as Daddy, Daddy, Daddy (2001), which is in the collection of the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York. Other found materials like commercial fliers, posters, and billboards salvaged from South Los Angeles also make their way onto his large-scale canvases. After gluing them in place until many layers are formed, he laboriously sands the surface to reveal colours and patterns.

Bradford describes his method of layering and then grinding down the surface as analogous to archaeological digging or plumbing the depths of the human psyche.

Pull Paintings

In addition to 'digging', Mark Bradford has also introduced the technique of 'pulling' to his practice, in which ropes are embedded in the layers of paper and then pulled away. Works utilising this technique include Pull Painting 1 (2015) and Nothing about this is good (2018).

Social Art

Bradford has never shied away from tackling identity politics, and the materials he uses in his works, which he describes as 'social abstraction', are loaded with connotations of race and class. Such materials include not only end papers but also, for instance, mortgage flyers targeting people with low incomes.

The artworks themselves sometimes veer away from abstraction to make clear social critiques, as in Finding Barry (2015), for which the AIDS rates of different states of the United States were carved into the walls of the Hammer Museum. The video Practice (2003) taps into issues of queerness and black bodies with the artist himself filmed shooting hoops while wearing a Los Angeles Lakers shirt and a four-foot-diameter hoop skirt. Such works seek to undo the stereotype of effortless athleticism often affixed to African Americans.

Social Engagement

Mark Bradford's social engagement is also strongly evidenced in his art. In his contribution to New Orleans' Prospect.1 triennial in 2008, for example, he used posters and plywood panels to construct a boat-like sculpture entitled Mithra—a Noah's Ark for the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Apart from working as an artist, Bradford co-founded the non-profit space Art + Practice in 2014 with social activist Allan DiCastro and collector Eileen Harris Norton. Hosting events and exhibitions, the space seeks to provide art education for children under foster care and act as an institution of contemporary art for its community.

Tomorrow is Another Day

In 2017, Mark Bradford represented the United States at the Venice Biennale with the solo exhibition Tomorrow is Another Day. The United States Pavilion's neoclassical architecture is modelled after the estate of former president Thomas Jefferson, who owned hundreds of black slaves during his life. Bradford had audiences enter the pavilion from the side—the entrance meant for servants or slaves.

Inside, five exhibition rooms showcased works that combined myths, grand historical narratives and personal experiences. Spoiled Foot (2017), for instance, has a texture meant to suggest the lesions caused by AIDS, and the narrow spaces left around his works aimed to replicate the marginalisation the artist experiences.

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Clowns Travel Through Wires by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork painting, mixed media
Mark Bradford Clowns Travel Through Wires, 2013 Mixed media on canvas
272.5 x 369 cm
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Pink Pearl by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork painting
Mark Bradford Pink Pearl, 2024 Mixed media on canvas
191.8 x 254 x 5.7 cm
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Rona by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork print
Mark Bradford Rona, 2023 60-colour screenprint on Lana Aquarelle White Hot press 640 gsm
121.9 x 157.5 cm
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The Nature of Space by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork mixed media
Mark Bradford The Nature of Space, 2023 Mixed media on canvas
92.1 x 122.6 x 5.4 cm
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The Hunters Return to the Castle by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork painting, mixed media
Mark Bradford The Hunters Return to the Castle, 2020 Mixed media on canvas
368.5 x 390.5 x 52 cm
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The Unicorn Surrenders to a Maiden by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork painting
Mark Bradford The Unicorn Surrenders to a Maiden, 2020 Mixed media on canvas
202.5 x 86.5 x 5.5 cm
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The Unicorn Rests in a Garden by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork painting
Mark Bradford The Unicorn Rests in a Garden, 2020 Mixed media on canvas
254.5 x 370.5 x 5.5 cm
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The Unicorn Defends Himself by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork painting
Mark Bradford The Unicorn Defends Himself, 2020 Mixed media on canvas
367.5 x 399 x 5.5 cm
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The Unicorn Purifies Water by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork painting
Mark Bradford The Unicorn Purifies Water, 2020 Mixed media on canvas
369 x 427 x 5.5 cm
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The Unicorn Crosses a Stream by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork painting
Mark Bradford The Unicorn Crosses a Stream, 2020 Mixed media on canvas
369.5 x 392.5 x 5.5 cm
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Cobra by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork painting
Mark Bradford Cobra, 2022 Mixed media on canvas
183.5 x 244.8 x 5.4 cm
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10 minutes ahead of rent by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork painting
Mark Bradford 10 minutes ahead of rent, 1996 Acrylic and mixed-media collage on canvas on board
91.4 x 188 cm
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Dancing in the Street by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork moving image
Mark Bradford Dancing in the Street, 2019 Video, 2 min, 50 sec
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Q7 by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork painting, mixed media
Mark Bradford Q7, 2020 Mixed media on canvas
182.9 x 243.8 cm
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Rising by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork painting, mixed media
Mark Bradford Rising, 2019 Mixed media on canvas
175.9 x 148.9 x 5.7 cm
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Painting 6 by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork mixed media
Mark Bradford Painting 6, 2019 Mixed media on canvas
121.9 x 91.4 cm
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A Molded Pool of Stories by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork mixed media
Mark Bradford A Molded Pool of Stories, 2019 Mixed media on canvas
175.2 x 148.9 cm
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Frostbite by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork mixed media
Mark Bradford Frostbite, 2019 Mixed media on canvas
337.2 x 585.5 cm
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The path to the river belongs to animals by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork mixed media
Mark Bradford The path to the river belongs to animals, 2019 Mixed media on canvas
167.6 x 228.6 cm
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Feather by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork mixed media
Mark Bradford Feather, 2018 Mixed media on canvas
304.8 x 304.8 cm
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A Peculiar truth by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork mixed media
Mark Bradford A Peculiar truth, 2018 Mixed media on canvas
243.8 x 243.8 cm
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I finally touched the sky by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork mixed media
Mark Bradford I finally touched the sky, 2018 Mixed media on canvas
76.2 x 61 cm
Not for sale
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Let go of me!! Let me.... by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork mixed media
Mark Bradford Let go of me!! Let me...., 2018 Mixed media on canvas
209.6 x 265.4 cm
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Next, Storm the castle by Mark Bradford contemporary artwork mixed media
Mark Bradford Next, Storm the castle, 2018 Mixed media on canvas
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