DALLAS, TX.- The Dallas Museum of Art
presents the first museum survey devoted to one of the leading figures in contemporary art, Mark Bradford. The critically acclaimed exhibition, on view October 16, 2011, through January 15, 2012, features over forty works spanning a decade of Mark Bradfords career. Bradford is best known for his collaged paintings that express the energy and poetry of life in the city, particularly Los Angeles, where the artist lives and works. The New York Times praises Bradford for tackling the full spectrum of subjects, [making] his abstraction feel deep. A recipient of a 2009 MacArthur Foundation Award, Bradford uses found materials including merchant posters, homemade flyers, salvaged plywood, and permanent wave endpapers to create his vibrant, textured compositions.
We are thrilled to share with DallasFort Worth audiences this first retrospective survey of one of the most influential and imaginative artists working today, said Olivier Meslay, the DMAs Interim Director. Using materials scavenged from the street, Bradford creates gridlike abstractions that reflect the complexity of urban life with haunting poignancy and beauty. Reflecting the DMAs ambitious contemporary program, this extraordinary special exhibition marks Bradfords solo museum debut in both Texas and the American Southwest.
Organized by Christopher Bedford, Chief Curator of Exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts, the presentation at the DMA is coordinated by Jeffrey Grove, The Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art. Offering an overview of the main themes in Bradfords art from 2000 to 2010, works in the exhibition draw upon influences such as identity politics and urban space, the history of collage and abstraction, devices of mapping, urban music, and other issues in popular culture, particularly the fate of New Orleans postHurricane Katrina. The exhibition includes a monumental section of the ark Mithra, which he built for Prospect 1, the New Orleans Biennale, one of the first international art events devised to bring visitors back to that city following the hurricane.
One of the earliest works in the show is Enter and Exit the New Negro (2001), a minimalist canvas patterned with perm endpapers, a material often used to straighten African Americans hair. Applied against each other in rows, the endpapers form an elegant white and gray grid that references both the history of abstraction and African American culture. The work is also autobiographical: before becoming an artist Bradford worked in the hair salon his mother owned and in which he grew up. Beginning in 2002, Bradford began to incorporate merchant posters into his work. These signs of urban life, plastered on abandoned public spaces in his neighborhood, often advertise DNA testing, low-cost divorce, and dubious money-making schemes. Collectively, they trace the communitys pulse, reflecting indigenous networks of communication, underground economies, and the changing demographics of the area.
Music has also been a source of inspiration for the artist throughout his career, and Bradford often gives his works evocative titles that allude to 1990s hip-hop and other musical sources. A new multimedia installation incorporating graphite printed paper, light bulbs, and sound, Pinocchio Is On Fire (2010), reflects a deeper meditation on music and musicians and the roles they play in our society.
Bradford has captured widespread attention, and deservedly so, for effortlessly carving out an inventive new language in abstraction, while simultaneously channeling the great history of that practice, noted Jeffrey Grove. His direct connection to issues of place and autobiography feel immediately present in the work, but do not foreclose other interpretations and meanings. His sensibility is at once fearless and improvisational, disclosing the tendency of an artist who listens very carefully to his materials.
Mark Bradford was born in 1961 and lives and works in his native Los Angeles, California. He earned his BFA and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. Bradford has received many awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship (2009), the Bucksbaum Award (2006), the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2003), and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2002). His work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions at such venues as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others.