NEW YORK, NY.- Since 2006, acclaimed Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford has been erasing, obscuring and reconfiguring the text and graphics of advertising posters he collects from the South Central neighborhood where he was raised. His Merchant Poster series reveals narratives of economic struggle and cultural discord as they are telegraphed by the street advertisements of an underground economy.
The signs themselves are ubiquitous in LA, printed ad hoc and pasted or stapled onto whatever surfaces are in reach: walls, telephone poles, the windows and doors of abandoned storefronts. The services they advertise speak to the needs of the people who pass by them every day, with offers to create a new credit profile, fight divorce and custody battles, test paternity, or make health insurance affordable. And as the needs of the people change, so do these appeals to those in desperation. Bradford elaborates the traces of this ghost economy to draw out the economic, political and cultural conflicts of the spaces they wallpaper.
Mark Bradford: Merchant Posters is a definitive collection of the collage series on which Bradford has been working since 2006, featuring more than 100 full color reproductions, and with essays by Dia Art Foundation Director Philippe Vergne, Los Angeles-based artist and writer Ernest Hardy, Los Angeles-based cultural critic Malik Gaines, and Aspen Art Museum Director and Chief Curator Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson.
Mark Bradford was born in 1961 and continues to live and work in Los Angeles. In 2009, he was recognized with a fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation, an award given to individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. He has received many honors in the past, including the Bucksbaum Award (2006); the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2003); and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2002). His works have been featured in numerous major exhibitions, at venues such as Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2006); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2003) (2006); REDCAT, Los Angeles (2004); and Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2001).
Philippe Vergne is Director of Dia Art Foundation, appointed in 2008. Prior to this position, he was the Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Walker Art Center. Having joined the Walker in 1997, he organized more than twenty-five international exhibitions, including How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age, Lets Entertain, Herzog & de Meuron: In Process, the first retrospective of the work of Huang Yong Ping, and the first survey of the work of Kara Walker (awarded the "Best Monograph Museum Show Nationally" by the International Association of Art Critics in 2008). In 2006, he co-curated the Whitney Biennial, with Chrissie Iles. In 2004, Vergne was honored by the French government with the prestigious medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, which recognizes an individuals professional achievements in the fields of art and literature.
Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson is the Director and Chief Curator of the Aspen Art Museum, appointed in 2005. At the Aspen Art Museum, she has curated numerous exhibitions and written extensively about the work of a wide range of leading contemporary artists. From 1999-2005, she was the Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, where she curated more than forty solo exhibitions of international contemporary artists, including Peter Doig, Shirin Neshat, Julie Mehretu, Doug Aitken, Tacita Dean, Wolfgang Laib, and Ernesto Neto. She was also formerly a curator at The Jewish Museum, New York.