American-born is one of the most well known artists of his generation, and his work continues to be highly collectible and highly sought after. Mark Bradford was born in 1961, and he currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California, where he is an integral part of the West Coast art scene.
Mark Bradford is a native of Los Angeles, where he started life as the son of a beauty shop owner in Leimart Park. His mother Janice was a strong early influence on him, especially when the family moved to the largely white neighborhood of Santa Monica.
Mark Bradford was 11 years old when his family relocated to Santa Monica, but his mother continued to maintain a beauty salon in their old and more ethnically diverse neighborhood.
At first, Mark Bradford was content to follow in the footsteps of his business owner mother, and upon graduating from high school, he went on to earn his hairdresser's license. After working at his mother's hair salon, Mark Bradford started his artistic study at the California Institute of the Arts, entering school at the age of 30. While there, he earned his BFA, and later an MFA in 1997.
After graduating from his formal artistic education, Mark Bradford went on to create some truly stunning works. This American-born artist is perhaps best known for his large abstract paintings, works that typically incorporate a grid-like structure.
Many of Mark Bradford's works combine elements of collage with traditional painting, creating effects that are both haunting and refreshingly unique. One of the best known examples of this technique is a collage called Orbit. At the center of this collage is an image of a basketball, taken from a magazine. That basketball is in turn placed into a dense lattice showing the streets of Los Angeles. This creates an aerial view that is both strange and oddly familiar, a hallmark of Mark Bradford's work.
Mark Bradford is also known for the sheer size and scope of his works. One of his best known works is approximately 9 feet wide by 9 feet tall, taking up a huge amount of space and creating strong reactions in its viewers. The work evokes images of riots, burning streets and shattered windshields, and it is one of Mark Bradford's most iconic pieces.
The work is also typical of Mark Bradford and his approach to the power of artistic expression. The vast nature of the piece invites viewers to see it from afar, but closer inspection reveals details that may have been missed. Close inspection reveals powerful brushwork, and a sensual approach to the creative process. By using layer after layer of found objects, lacquered pieces and light pastels, Mark Bradford has been able to create a work of surpassing power.
While best known as a painter and collage artist, Mark Bradford is also increasingly well known for his work with video and installation. One of his most famous installations is a work called Mithra, in which the artist shipped an ark created from the salvaged plywood of barricade fencing to the city of New Orleans.
That ark project was exhibited for Prospect New Orleans, a special exhibit of contemporary art designed to commemorate the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The installation was designed to be visible only from the air, representing a giant SOS signal and an urgent cry for help.
Mark Bradford is also known for his audio work, most notably the soundtrack to a 30-minute dance duet by choreographer Benjamin Millepied. That work was designed as a celebration of Andy Warhol and his famous Factory, and it took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles.
In recent years, Mark Bradford has become increasingly well known for his site-specific works, including 2015's Pull Painting 1. That work extended along a 60 foot long wall of the Wadsworth Atheneum, and it was part of the MATRIX 172 program.
That work saw Mark Bradford applying thick layers of brightly colored paper, along with paint and bits of rope. Those various pieces were then peeled, stripped, sanded and cut away, creating a bright and vivid composition with a rich and vibrant texture.
With a sensibility all his own and a unique style, Mark Bradford has created contemporary works of art that are unlike anything else. From museums around the world to high-end galleries that cater to collectors, the works of Mark Bradford have made their mark on the art world, and he continues to influence the next generation of artists in a way only he can.
Building "The Big White Whale”, 2012
mixed media collage on canvas
104 1/4 x 144 1/4 inches