First Works by Bradford Enter the BMA’s Collection to Coincide with the Artist’s Representation of the U.S. at the 2017 Venice Biennale

BALTIMORE, MD – The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) today announced the acquisition of major works by Mark Bradford, Paul Chan, Norman Lewis, and Ellsworth Kelly. Spanning a range of media, the acquisitions complement the BMA’s holdings of contemporary art, from mid-20th-century American abstraction to the art of today, and demonstrate the museum’s commitment to expanding the narrative of art history through the representation of diverse artists.

Mark Bradford. My Grandmother Felt the Color. 2016. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchased as the gift of Anonymous Donors, BMA R.17881. Photo: Joshua White, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Marking the first works by the artist to enter the museum’s collection, the Mark Bradford acquisitions represent the historic collaboration between the BMA, co-organizer of the U.S. Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, and Bradford, the representative for the U.S. in 2017. Bradford’s monumental painting My Grandmother Felt the Color, 2016, is currently on view at the BMA in a gallery dedicated to social abstraction, alongside other artists who have turned to abstract imagery to convey the humanity, complexity, and ongoing impact of specific cultural experiences, such as Jack Whitten and Ross Bleckner. Niagara, a video by Bradford that examines the urban landscape through both formal principles and societal roles, will go on view in Baltimore in the summer of 2018. The BMA has also acquired an outstanding example of an oil on canvas by Norman Lewis, an African-American pioneer of the Abstract Expressionist movement and an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance, who can be seen as a predecessor to Bradford’s approach to abstraction.

The museum also introduces its first digitally animated installation to the collection, created by a trailblazer of the medium, Paul Chan. Chan’s celebrated 1st Light, 2005, with its elegiac and critical reflection on America in the wake of 9/11, will build on the BMA’s strong collection of politically engaged art. It will be installed at the museum in the fall of 2017. Additionally, the museum’s first photograph by leading American artist Ellsworth Kelly deepens the BMA’s already robust holdings of works by the artist. Represented by painting, sculpture, collage, drawing, and print, Kelly is a touchstone of the BMA’s collection.

“Each of the works entering our collection is produced by artists fundamental to the development of American modern and contemporary art, and many are in direct dialogue with the social and political conditions of their day,” said Christopher Bedford, BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director and Commissioner for the U.S. Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale. “We are pleased to enrich the experience of our collections for our audiences and to continue to expand the narrative of art history through the presentation of these significant works spanning painting, video, and photography. We aim to develop a new and inclusive view of the history of American art, and these acquisitions help us establish that vital course.”

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