Artist
Mark Bradford
American visual artist

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Mark Bradford
American visual artist
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Birth Date

1961

Works by Mark Bradford

jtucker's picture

Contributor

Everything about Mark Bradford is big: his stature, his art, and most definitely, his career.

Hailing from South Central Los Angeles, Bradford may have escalated to the acme of art world hot shot, but he never forgets his humble inner-city roots. LA was, and in many senses still is a grimy city. But hey, what urban utopia doesn't find its cultural charm in a contrast between light and dark? It is in this duality that Mark Bradford found his artistic calling.

Bradford grew up in a boarding housing in South Central. By the 80s, his neighborhood would become a mecca for crack dens and rampant street crime. He experienced the tensions of being black and gay in the inner-city during a time where racial politics and AIDS were a relentless form of contention in society.

Avoiding the drugs and crime of his environment, Branford found refuge in his mother’s hair salon. Bradford identifies working in his mother’s salon as his first defiant act. Yes, spending his days under his mommy’s care was his first F-you to the world. Are you getting a sense for Bradford’s temperament yet? Well, as wimpy as it may seem, it was an act of defiance, for everyone assumed that since he was black and extremely tall he was going to become a basketball player. It is these stereotypes that have followed him around his whole life that are the basis of his extraordinary success in the arts.

It is these experiences which seem to captivate his audiences so. Our roots are always ingrained in us, but with Bradford, this is an undeniable truth. The City of Angels is saturated in his work, normally taking the form of grimy street posters he finds littered in the neighborhood around his studio. These posters for divorce, debt, and paternal DNA testing can be found lurking in Bradford’s work. These forgotten scraps make up the bigger picture of life in South Central Los Angeles and are the clearest indicator of where Bradford really comes from.  

Social practice is his thing. In order to explore the potential for art to evoke cultural change, Bradford took the $500,000 he received from winning the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2009 and funneled it into his project Art + Practice. This organization exposes youth in the South Central area to museum quality exhibitions and artist lectures. Pretty awesomely selfless, huh?

Bradford is a lovable character indeed. Kind, gentle, and sweet are common adjectives assigned to Mr. Bradford. He is also an inquisitive fellow as well. Bradford always had a taste for international travel and understanding other cultures. He spent months exploring Europe and sleeping in train stations as a youngin. When he came back to LA, he would wait by the international terminals at LAX and as people exited their flights, he would get in line with them and pretend he was returning home from exotic new lands. Artists really are a quirky breed.

 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford (born November 20, 1961) is an American artist living and working in Los Angeles.

Early life and education

Bradford was born and raised in South Los Angeles. His mother rented a beauty salon in Leimert Park. Bradford moved with his family to a largely white neighborhood in Santa Monica when he was 11, but his mother still maintained her business in the old neighborhood. Bradford worked in her shop at times. When Bradford graduated high school, he obtained his hairdresser's license and went to work at his mother's salon.

Bradford began his studies at the California Institute of the Arts in 1991 at the age of 30. He earned a BFA in 1995 and an MFA in 1997.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Mark Bradford.