Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford, in collaboration with Carlos Avendaño and The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Storefront (installation view), 2007. Photographic images printed on static cling film-laminate stock, and adhered to windows of The New Temporary Contemporary, Philadelphia. Photo credit: Carlos Avendaño.

Mark Bradford creates paintings that recall modernist style but which are grounded in the materials of his local urban environment: South-Central L.A. His work is primarily based on notions of ethnicity and beauty as defined by the community of his youth. Bradford experiments with materials drawn from local beauty salons and other local businesses and hangouts that hold significant meaning to the South-Central social scene.

For his 2007 residency, Bradford has proposed collaborating with FWM to create his first large-scale sculptural piece. Mark Bradford and artist Juan Carlos Avendaño were inspired by a new city, Philadelphia, to create Storefront, which is the third collaboration between the two artists. The work is a comment on the urban experience as well as a part of the city at a fundamental level: street level. Both artists are interested in exploring the factors that shape the urban landscape including the “informal economy” (the economy that consists of the unregulated transactions that are common among those who work in the service industry, including hairstylists). They see the urban landscape as a place full of messages, some of which are meant to be read by the general public and others that are coded and intended for a specific audience. Storefront is intended, in the artists’ own words, “to create a faux reality… which bleeds into the reality of urban space” allowing the viewer to reflect on “the increasingly rapid ways in which public space is constantly being designed, defined, erased, and built again.” 

In his 2012 FWM exhibition, Geppetto, Bradford debuted a new, multimedia wall installation. The resulting abstract work—composed of 2,000 solid black “cancellation” newsprint pages—spanned the length of FWM’s gallery wall, providing an immersive, psychological experience for the viewer. Geppetto served as a continuation of themes found in Bradford’s 2010 piece Pinocchio Is on Fire. In that work, Bradford conceptually interwove narratives of the iconic childhood character, Pinocchio, the puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy. His installation at FWM shared its name with Pinocchio’s father Geppetto, suggesting a new consideration of that paternalistic role.

Artist Bio

Mark Bradford (American, born 1961)

Mark Bradford received a BFA (1995) and MFA (1997) from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. He is the subject of a major museum survey, organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts, which has traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Dallas Museum of Art, and is currently on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Additionally, Bradford has participated in Prospect.1, New Orleans, Louisiana (2008-9); the 55th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2008-9) the 27th Bienal de São Paulo (2006); the Whitney Biennial (2006); and the Busan Biennial, South Korea (2006). He is the recipient of several prestigious grants and awards, including a MacArthur “Genius” Grant (2009); The United States Artists Fellowship (2006); the Bucksbaum Award, Whitney Museum of American Art (2006); the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2003); and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2002).