Art AV Club: Mark Bradford

In this Art AV Club I take a look at Mark Bradford, his love of paper and deconstruction of it, and my own deep love of the same.

I fell down a YouTube rabbit hole recently, like you do. I took an online class and one of the bonus materials was a video about Cy Twombly. After I watched it, I wondered if there were videos on other Abstract Expressionists. And just like all trips down the YouTube rabbit hole, I surfaced several hours later awed by the amazing content and looking for snacks.

Social media doesn’t allow for easy sharing of this kind of material. So I decided to make it a recurring feature on my blog. And just like that, Art AV Club was born! On Mondays, I’ll post videos of or about artists. I’ll share a bit about why what they do intrigues me. I hope you’ll go on this journey with me. Abstract paper artist Mark Bradford is my pick this week for Art AV Club.

My first introduction to Mark Bradford was when a friend asked me if I knew who he was. Because, she texted, my work reminded her of Bradford’s work. After she said it, and I died and went to art heaven, I started seeing Mark Bradford everywhere. I got to see “Pickett’s Charge” at the Hirshhorn a couple of years ago. Another friend showed me photos of “Bell Tower” she snapped on her way through LAX because she thought I would think it was cool.

Watching videos of him talking about his work are nearly as good as the work itself. He is generous with his time and community service. His excitement about making art and sharing it with people is joyful and contagious. His work is ripe with devastating socio-political meaning and yet when he talks I feel a sense of hope for what art can do in the world.

Anderson Cooper’s chance meeting of Mark Bradford

A fantastic introduction to Mark Bradford and his work.

Amendment #8

Here he talks about the painting “Amendment #8” and the political ramifications of his work.

Bad Ass

Mark discusses his painting “Bad Ass” and his enthusiasm is contagious.

Deconstruction is my passion

Mark Bradford might actually love paper more than me. It feels like a close call but I think he might win and I love that about him. He and I share a love for found paper and what it can become. I love gluing things down and then figuring out how to tear them up and off. It provides a sense of impermanence and echos the transience of our time.

The process of creating something that looks some kinda way and then starting its destruction and making it look really interesting is what draws me in every time. Pristine isn’t interesting. Distressed and marked by time is.

I think Mark does a great job of talking about where his abstract art comes from. He does it in unpretentious language that people can understand. I’m working on that also. I’ve tried to do it here, in this series, and before in posts like this: How to interact with abstract art (and by extension me). I love this journey and I want as many people to come with me as possible so talking about it seems to be the logical extension of that.

Go exploring on your own

If you liked watching Mark Bradford talk about his art, I have great news for you! There are so many interviews with Mark on YouTube. He’s given lectures and extensive interviews so you can watch Mark talk for days. I had a really hard time narrowing the selections down to these three so please go see more videos. I’ll be bringing another artist next week so check back on Monday. If there’s an artist you’d like my take on, drop me a note and I’ll put them on the list!