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Mb-boreas07_b Targets390 Mb_9409 Bradford_1 Bradford_4 20100928031158-mb 20101103111443-bradford_mark_s 20110102073833-002__1 20110808011637-57
'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
20110806094823-4b217bradford_portrait_press2011
Boreas, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Boreas,
2007, mixed media collage on canvas, 102 x 144 in
© Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
Practice, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Practice,
2003, Digital-video projection with sound
© Mark Bradford, BCAM- Broad Contemporary Art Museum
Red Painting, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Red Painting,
2009 , Mixed media collage on canvas , 101.75 x 143.5 inches 258.4 x 364.5 cm
© Courtesy of the artist & Sikkema Jenkins & Co
Untitled, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Untitled, 2009
© Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York
Untitled, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Untitled, 2007
© Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York
, Mark BradfordMark Bradford
© Courtesy of the Artist and White Cube, Hoxton Square
Untitled (S), Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Untitled (S), 2010
© Mark Bradford
Strawberry, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Strawberry, 2002
© Courtesy of the artist and the Museum of Contemporary Art
Scorched Earth, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Scorched Earth, 2006
© Photo: Bruce M. White/ Courtesy MCA Chicago
Alphabet, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Alphabet, 2010
Installation view of Mark Bradford, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Mark BradfordMark Bradford,
Installation view of Mark Bradford, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago,
2011
© Photo: Nathan Keay/ Courtesy MCA Chicago
Smokey, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Smokey, 2003
© Photo: Bruce M. White/ Courtesy MCA Chicago
The Devil Is Beating His Wife, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, The Devil Is Beating His Wife,
2003
© Photo: Bruce M. White/ Courtesy MCA Chicago
Grey Gardens, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Grey Gardens, 2010
© Photo: Fredrik Nilsen/ Courtesy MCA
Taking Up the Cross, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Taking Up the Cross, 2009
© Photo: Fredrik Nilsen/ Courtesy MCA
Untitled (Shoe), Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Untitled (Shoe), 2003
© Photo: Bruce M. White/ Courtesy MCA Chicago
, Mark BradfordMark Bradford
© Courtesy of the artist & Dallas Museum of Art
Scorched Earth , Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Scorched Earth ,
2006, billboard paper, photomechanical reproductions, acrylic gel medium, carbon paper, acrylic paint, bleach, and additional mixed media on canvas; collection of Dennis and Debra Scholl
© Mark Bradford; photo: Bruce M. White
Across Canal, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Across Canal,
2009-10, super-8 film transferred to digital video; courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
© Mark Bradford
Detail, installation view at the Wexner Center for the Arts 2010     , Mark BradfordMark Bradford,
Detail, installation view at the Wexner Center for the Arts 2010 ,
2009–10, Plywood, found paper, adhesive (parts of Mithra reassembled for the exhibition) , 196 x 216 x 360 inches
© Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Photo: Jo McCulty
Mithra, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Mithra,
2008 
 , Found paper on plywood, metal shipping containers
 , 70 x 20 x 25 ft
 Installation view: 
Prospect.1 New Orleans, 2008
 Photo: Javier Romero
 Artwork
© Mark Bradford; Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
Ghost and Stooges, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Ghost and Stooges,
2011, mixed media collage on canvas, 102 x 144 in.
© Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
Potable Water, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Potable Water,
2005, Mixed media collage with billboard paper, photomechanical reproductions, acrylic gel medium, and additional mixed media, 130 x 196 inches (330.2 x 497.8 cm)
© Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
 Fuhgitfulness, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Fuhgitfulness,
2012 , Mixed media collage on canvas, 120 x 198 inches 304.8 x 502.9 cm
© Courtesy of the artist & Sikkema Jenkins & Co
 This is Why We Live in Tribes, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, This is Why We Live in Tribes,
2012 , Mixed media collage on canvas, 102.25 x 144 inches 259.7 x 365.8 cm
© Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
 Promise Land, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Promise Land,
2012, Mixed media collage on canvas, 102 x 144 inches 259.1 x 365.8 cm
© Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
, Mark BradfordMark Bradford
© Courtesy of the Artist and Palm Springs Art Museum
, Mark BradfordMark Bradford
© Courtesy of the Artist and White Cube, Bermondsey
, Mark BradfordMark Bradford
© Courtesy of the artist & The White Cube São Paulo
, Mark BradfordMark Bradford
© Courtesy of the artist & The White Cube Hong Kong
When You Have It, Your Final Price Will be Less , Mark BradfordMark Bradford,
When You Have It, Your Final Price Will be Less ,
2014 , Mixed media collage on canvas, 335.28 x 304.8 cm / 132 x 120 in
© Courtesy of the artist & Hauser & Wirth Zürich
Shoot the Coin, Mark BradfordMark Bradford, Shoot the Coin,
2013, mixed media on canvas. Purchased with major funding provided by Andy Valmorbida, with additional support from Sotheby's
© Courtesy of the Artist and LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Mark Bradford is an artist who incorporates ephemera from urban environments into mixed-media works on canvas that are rich in texture and visual complexity. Though he has experimented throughout his career with many different artistic media, including public art, installations, and video, his signature and best-known work takes the form of massively scaled, abstract collages that he assembles o...[more]


RackRoom
Interview with Mark Bradford

Chicago, Aug. 2011 - Just before his traveling survey opened to the public at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, Mark Bradford and I had a conversation in the midst of his work in the galleries. I don't think it's possible to have an unproductive conversation with Bradford; he's very expressive and clearly enjoys talking about his work and his ideas.

Bradford has gained much acclaim for his work that balances formalist aesthetics with social relevance, arraying singed endpapers used in beauty parlors and layering posters from off of the street and sanding them down to expose different strata.  Despite these materials, his work is often described as painting, which is where our conversation begins.  

  

Mark BradfordUntitled (Shoe), 2003; Courtesy The Speyer Family Collection / Photo: Bruce M. White, 2010


Abraham Ritchie: In a lot of writing about your practice, your work is described as painting, even if it doesn’t involve paint.  How do you stand in relationship to that tradition of painting? It seems like there are a lot of people saying that about your work, but I wanted to hear what you had to say.

Mark Bradford: Oh I got a lot to say!  And we never agree.

AR:  There did seem to a little bit of conflict there so I wanted to ask.

MB: I see them as paintings because I make it easy on myself, because they are on a stretcher bar. I’m not getting into whether that’s a collage, or . . . They’re on stretcher bars so they’re a painting for me.  Now the material that I use is something different. Obviously I don’t use paint. Obviously. And it wasn’t a political strategy, against painting -- “Fuck you, paint” -- it wasn’t that. 

If I’m doing work that really starts to mine modernity, even if it’s visual, sort of like abstractions, it just goes like art history, like whishhh, [makes a hand gesture of something being sucked off of his hand and thrown behind him] sucked into the vacuum of the institution.  But I had this impulse to talk about spatial issues and social issues and all these other things and I didn’t want to just have that in the title like Agnes Martin, you know. So I started using something that had that sort of embedding in it. 

I’m very impatient and oil painting takes a long time to dry.  It’s very toxic; it gives me a headache, so I knew I couldn’t use it. Acrylic paint, it doesn’t work for me.

These endpapers were cheap, fifty cents a box, which was good getting out of school. So it organically led me to other materials. When I needed more end paper I’d walk out, find some street paper; the street paper has color so I'd have a color pattern now.  Eventually I decided that because of the territory I was mining, paper made sense.  I don’t know when, or at what point, but I just decided, ok I’m going to keep doing this.

AR:  And in these galleries you can really see the organic way your work has progressed.

MB: History loves to be linear, but it’s usually not.

Installation view of Mark Bradford, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago;  Photo: Nathan Keay / Courtesy MCA Chicago


AR: You’ve said that before.

MB: Yeah, it’s not and neither is mine.  I don’t always know what I’m doing when I’m doing it. I can look back now and say, oh I see what I’ve been doing. . . But at the moment I’m in it, it’s like an anxiety-ridden unknown.  It’s like the voice of God.

AR: So let the art historians and the curators figure it out?

MB: They can figure it out.  This is visual talent that I’m interested in and I know that I’m trying to mine a certain territory and that takes up all my time. I certainly don’t have time to figure out what history this work relates to.

Sometimes they give me too much credit, right? And I’m like this art-savvy person, but they’re like, "He’s referencing these paintings and these paintings." Sometimes I’ve looked at them and sometimes not. I think that’s a function of art history.


AR: What are the differences and how does your work operate in two-dimensions versus three-dimensions? Because something like Mithra [seen above] operates in three-dimensions, but it also operates two-dimensionally via the panels.

MB: I started off as a sculptor, and before that I was a hairdresser. When you are doing hair you are always thinking about it in three dimensions. So that was very, very easy for me to do, to work three-dimensionally.  I’m sure I translated that on some unconscious level when I started working two-dimensionally in regards to depth.

AR: Ah, ok.

MB: I was really obsessed with depth.  Flatness and depth. That came from my sculptural background.  But it was intuitive, it wasn’t like, “I am a sculptor and I am going to translate that. David Smith is god.”

AR: [Laughs] So if you’re obsessed with flatness, how do you approach something that’s totally in the round, literally, like a sculpture like Kobe I Got Your Back (2008)?

MB: It’s not the big of a deal. Oftentimes I work on paintings and sculptures at the same time. I have two studios and I’ll do sculptures in one studio and paintings in another and I’ll run between them. Sometimes I’ll get bored with 2D and want to do 3D. I bounce a lot.

The sculpture is one form and the painting is another. I’ll be painting and get a great sculpture idea; I’ll be sculpting and get a painting idea.

I think I think in 3D. I’m almost sure at this point.

AR: Yeah, being here in this space, I can’t help but see those rapid progressions.  But like you said there’s a good amount of rupture between them—

MB: Oh yeah man, I rupture, like it ain’t even nothing.  Because that’s what history does. We have the art world now, but we forget that two years ago it collapsed. It wasn’t slow.  It just stopped.  The housing market collapsed.  So I always try to have these interruptions in my work.

 

Value 47, 2009-10; Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York / Photo: Fredrik Nilsen


AR: I’ve been asking this question for a couple years to most people I’ve talked to because I think it’s interesting and a lot of artists have pretty strong opinions.  What about beauty in your work? These things are simultaneously very beautiful but sort of rundown too.

MB: Rundown you said?!

AR: Well I mean they are right?

MB: Totally, they are, I love that you said that. They’re rough around the edges, rundown.

Beauty is like the two-fer.  It’s like the thing you get when you buy a Pepsi, and they give you a little...

AR: And you get a little something for free?

MB: Beauty is like the thing for free. It’s not something I aspire to, but when it’s there I’m good with it.  It’s like, ok fine. It’s the buy one, get one free.  That’s how I look at it; it’s not the primary -- the idea is the primary.  If it ends up beautiful, or rude, or mean, or poetic, or sublime...you know, that’s such modernist talk for me.

AR: When it does go into—

MB: Whishhh, [makes the previous hand gesture of something being sucked up and thrown into space] that?

AR: Yeah, when it goes into modernist ideas—

MB: Whishhh! [makes the gesture again]

AR: —I think I feel an affinity with you, that too much theoretical interpretation takes away from the work doing what it actually does.

MB: Yeah I just want it to do what it does. I think that people get it; they can feel it and they understand it.  No, no, no, no it’s exactly what you just said -- it’s beautiful but a little ragtag. That’s exactly me.  I’m elegant but I have this little rough edge. That’s me. I’m crazy for the cornflakes but not the milk; I’ve always been that way.

I don’t think that you have to endlessly, endlessly, endlessly, debate it. Of course I’m not anti-intellectual, certainly.  At the end of it, it doesn’t make it any better.  Either a work is going to hold up or it’s not.


ArtSlant would like to thank Mark Bradford for his assistance in making this interview possible.

-Abraham Ritchie

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