Institute of Contemporary Art Boston Presents Mark Bradford Exhibition

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston presents Mark Bradford—the first museum survey devoted to one of the leading figures in contemporary art. Bradford is best known for his collage-layered paintings that express the energy and poetry of life in the city, particularly Los Angeles where the artist lives and works. A recipient of a 2009 MacArthur Foundation Award (known as the “genius grant”), Bradford uses found materials—peeling movie posters, homemade flyers, salvaged plywood, even the endpapers used to perm black hair—to create his vibrant, textured compositions. Pop culture, identity politics, the history of collage, mapping, and abstract painting, are just a few of his influences.

On view from Nov. 19, 2010 through March 13, 2011, Mark Bradford features over 35 works, including painting, sculpture, installation, and video spanning the past decade.

Mark Bradford, Potable Water, 2005, Billboard paper, photomechanical reproductions, acrylic gel medium, and additional mixed media, 130 x 196 inches, Collection of Hunter Gray, Photo: Bruce M. White

“We are very excited to welcome Mark Bradford and present his powerful work in Boston,’ says Jill Medvedow, director of the ICA. “His paintings, videos and sculptures capture the beauty, grit and complexity of contemporary urban society, and they do so with an honesty and an originality that makes us want to look deeper at the art and at ourselves.”

“Bradford’s visually striking canvases push the possibilities of contemporary painting—for instance, the artist does not use paint in his work.” says Helen Molesworth, ICA chief curator, who coordinated the exhibition at the ICA. “Through an innovative process of layering, embellishing and eroding materials, Bradford’s paintings are a kind of an archeology of the present, even as they explore the limits and possibilities of abstraction.”

The exhibition offers an overview of the main themes in Bradford’s art from 2000 to 2010, including urban space, music, black men and popular culture, and the fate of New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. One of the earliest works in the show is Enter and Exit the New Negro (2001), a minimalist canvas made from perm endpapers—a material used in the straightening of African-American hair. Lined against each other in rows, the endpapers form an elegant, white and grey grid that references the history of abstraction as well as African-American culture. The work is also autobiographical inasmuch as the endpapers were gathered from the hair salon that Bradford’s mother owned and where the artist worked growing up. This multi-dimensionality is typical of Bradford’s compositions.

Music has been a source of inspiration to the artist throughout his career, and he often gives his works evocative titles that allude to 1990s hip hop or other musical sources. A new multimedia installation conceived for this exhibition, Pinocchio Is On Fire (2010) immerses the viewer in images and sound to reflect a deeper meditation on music and musicians, and the roles they play in our society. In this installation Bradford uses the persona of the recently deceased soul legend Teddy Pendergrass much as he uses his other materials—an image left behind, ready to be deconstructed, altered, and reincorporated into something new.

Artist bio
Mark Bradford (b. 1961) lives and works in his native Los Angeles, California. He earned his BFA (1995) and MFA (1997) from the California Institute of the Arts. Bradford has received many awards, including 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.

Following its only east coast presentation at the ICA/Boston, Mark Bradford travels to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (May 28–Sept. 18, 2011), the Dallas Museum of Art (Oct. 16, 2011–Jan. 15, 2012), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (Feb. 18–May 20, 2012). Mark Bradford is a touring exhibition organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University.

The fully illustrated catalogue that accompanies the show is the most comprehensive treatment of Bradford’s work to date, featuring essays by Christopher Bedford, Robert Storr, Richard Shiff, Katy Siegel, and Hilton Als, as well as two interviews with the artist by Carol S. Eliel and Hamza Walker. It is co-published by the Wexner Center and Yale University Press.

Exhibition microsite:
The public can explore Bradford’s process and background at, an educational microsite developed by the Wexner Center in partnershipwith Resource Interactive. The site includes video and audio interviews with Bradford, music, images, explanatory text, and more.

Exhibition-related programs
Talk: Mark Bradford, Hilton Als & Helen Molesworth
Thursday, November 18, 6:30 PM
Tickets: $20 general admission; $16 ICA members and students.
Get to know artist Mark Bradford in a lively conversation with New Yorker writer Hilton Als and ICA Chief Curator Helen Molesworth. A contributor of theater, visual art, and literary reviews for The New Yorker, Hilton Als was also a staff writer for Village Voice and editor-at-large for Vibe magazine.

Major support for this exhibition is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Resource Interactive.

Significant contributions are provided by The Broad Art Foundation, the Nimoy Foundation, Nancy and Dave Gill, and Toby Devan Lewis.

The Boston presentation of the Mark Bradford exhibition is sponsored by Deutsche Bank.

Generous support of the exhibition in Boston is provided by Kate McDonough and Edward Berman.

General support for the Wexner Center for the Arts is provided by the Greater Columbus Arts Council, The Columbus Foundation, Nationwide Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council and by the Corporate Annual Fund of the Wexner Center Foundation and Wexner Center Members.

About the ICA
An influential forum for multi-disciplinary arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art has been at the leading edge of art in Boston for more than 70 years. Like its iconic building on Boston’s waterfront, the ICA offers new ways of engaging with the world around us. Its exhibitions and programs provide access to contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA, located at 100 Northern Avenue, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 am – 5 pm; Thursday and Friday, 10 am – 9 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm. Admission is $15 adults, $10 seniors and students, and free for members and children 17 and under. ICA Free Admission for Youth is sponsored by State Street Corporation. Free admission on Target Free Thursday Nights, 5 – 9 pm. Free admission for families at ICA Play Dates (2 adults + children 12 and under) on the last Saturday of the month. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our Web site at

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published.