MARK BRADFORD (b. 1961)
Los Angeles-based artist Mark Bradford is well known for his map-like compositions created by manipulating paint and collaging found materials. These grids explore the flexibility of maps and the multiplicity of narratives generated in their design. Race, power, sexual orientation, social or economic class, and countless other factors affect the way in which maps are drawn. Bradford’s maps are concerned with his personal experience as a Black American man from South Los Angeles, who was fully immersed in the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.
Upon graduating from high school, Bradford began styling hair at his mother’s salon in Leimert Park. Throughout the 1980s, he made frequent trips to Europe, from Amsterdam to Paris, Berlin to Switzerland. He was inspired in part by novels, but also because he was worried about AIDS. After returning from a trip in the early 1990s, Bradford applied for an art program at Santa Monica College, for which he received free mentorship and studio space for two years. His mentor Jill Geigrich saw promise in his work, and recommended him for CalArts, where he was promptly offered a full scholarship. He returned to his mother’s hair salon after finishing a graduate degree at CalArts, where he eventually discovered his method of creating art.
Bradford has received many awards, medals, and fellowships for his artwork, including the National Medal of the Arts (2015), the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2012), the MacArthur Fellowship (2009), The Wexner Center Residency Award (2009), and the Busbaum Award from The Whitney Museum of American Art (2006). He has participated in group and solo shows in the US and internationally, including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum, CT and Gemeentemuseum den Haag, The Hague, Netherlands. Selected public collections include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.