ART SHOULD GET RIGHT UP IN YOUR FACE. “A good art work should rush out so close up to you that you are so uncomfortable. It should just rush out and get in your face,” Mark Bradford says in a new WSJ. The Wall Street Journal Magazine video.

He talks about how America is changing rapidly, that things are shifting so fast. The dynamic generated a sense of both vulnerability and hope that drove the work he created for his solo presentation at the U.S Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennial.

“Venice got right in my face. I felt that they were trying to turn me into this object for the State Department. I knew that I was going to have to stand super strong in my subjectivity and push back. I didn’t care I was representing the United. States. I didn’t care about black. I didn’t care about gay. I was going to get my message across. I don’t speak for anyone other than myself,” he says.

“Venice got right in my face. I felt that they were trying to turn me into this object for the State Department. I knew that I was going to have to stand super strong in my subjectivity and push back. …I don’t speak for anyone other than myself.” — Mark Bradford, WSJ. Magazine

The Wall Street Journal magazine announced its 2017 Innovator Awards at the Museum of Modern Art in New York last night and Bradford was among those recognized. The Los Angeles-based artist’s material-driven, collage-based abstraction explores social justice issues, challenges America’s ills, and considers hope in the unseen. The Innovator Award is the latest nod to Bradford who has had a banner year.

 


Former First Lady Michelle Obama make a cameo at the end of the video, noting that Mark Bradford “has inspired so many young people to follow their own passions. Not in spite of what they look like or where they come from or who they love but in celebration of it.” | A Film by Media Storm

 

“Tomorrow is Another Day,” his Venice exhibition, is on view through Nov. 26. “Pickett’s Charge,” his first solo exhibition in Washington, D.C., opens at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum Nov. 8. The title references a Confederate general’s failed charge against Union troops in 1863. The 360-degree experience is being installed in the museum’s circular gallery. With a circumference of 400 feet, the cyclorama is Bradford’s largest work to date.

Bradford discussed how he created the monumental work with the Wall Street Journal and emphasized the significance of its history. “Pickett’s Charge” is “named for a watershed moment during the Battle of Gettysburg, marking the Confederacy’s deepest penetration into the North and a failed offense, led by Major General George E. Pickett, that historians cite as a turning point in the Civil War,” the newspaper notes. “If they had broken the Union during that charge, they might have won,” Bradford says.

They didn’t. And 150 years later, here we are.

“We are obsessed with our differences, but we have to find the commonalities,” Bradford tells the Journal. “That’s a painful word people don’t want to talk about in America right now, but our commonality can’t be that we hate. That’s not good enough for me. I’ve never had it easy. But I have always had hope.” CT

 

TOP IMAGE: Mark Bradford. | Screen Grab from WSJ. 2017 Innovator Award Video by Media Storm

 

READ MORE about Mark Bradford in new Wall Street Journal article about his latest work

 

TALK TONIGHT Mark Bradford is speaking at Howard University in Recital Hall at 6 p.m. (Nov. 2)

 

BOOKSHELF
A fully illustrated catalog accompanies “Tomorrow Is Another Day,” Mark Bradford’s monumental vision at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Essays by co-curators Christopher Bedford and Katy Siegel are featured alongside contributions by Zadie Smith, Sarah Lewis, Peter James Hudson, and Anita Hill, among others, and an interview with the artist by Bedford. A forthcoming catalog documents “Pickett’s Charge,” Bradford’s largest work to date at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum.