Based in Los Angeles, Mark Bradford creates large-scale paintings characterised by their distinctive layering of materials and political insights. Join us for a conversation between the artist and acclaimed curator Michael Auping (Museum of Modern Art, Fort Worth, Texas). Bradford will discuss how he uses merchant billboards, posters and other found materials to engage issues of race, queerness and social inequality. The discussion will trace the evolution of Bradford’s practice and explore his unique relationship to paper as both an ordinary material and an extraordinary conveyor of society’s intentions and rights.
The event is the first in a new iteration of the American Artist Lecture Series, a collaboration between Tate, Art in Embassies, and US Embassy London. Previous speakers in the series have included Glenn Ligon, Julie Mehretu, Spencer Finch, Richard Tuttle, Brice Marden, and Maya Lin.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Mark Bradford (b. 1961) is best known for his large-scale paintings that explore the sociopolitical potential of abstraction through a rigorous approach to painting. The artist’s practice, self-described as ‘social abstraction,’ examines political and environmental conditions that continue to disproportionately affect the most marginalized populations. Within both historical and contemporary frameworks, Bradford has created a significant body of work that elucidates these issues, such as the AIDS epidemic, the misrepresentation and fear of queer identity, and systemic, institutionalized racism in America. Recycling ‘tools of civilization’ — merchant posters, newsprint, comic strips, magazines, billboards and endpapers — many of Bradford’s works are created by layering found materials and pop culture ephemera to fuse social indexes and cultural spheres. He has exhibited internationally and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the U.S. Department of State’s Medal of Arts in 2014, his appointment as a National Academician in 2013, and a MacArthur Fellowship Award in 2009. In 2018, Bradford was commissioned to create a site-specific work for the new US Embassy in London. Entitled We The People, the work is comprised of 32 panels, each 10 square feet, featuring select text from the United States Constitution.
Michael Auping is a specialist in the international developments of post-war art. He was chief curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, from 1993 to 2017. He has organized many critically acclaimed exhibitions over the past forty years, including shows by Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Susan Rothenberg, Ed Ruscha, Bruce Nauman and Lucian Freud. In 1990, he was Commissioner of the American Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, where he organized a site-specific installation by Jenny Holzer. Auping’s latest book, 40 Years: Just Talking About Art (Prestel, 2018), includes interviews with artists he has worked with over his career.