Joe Bradley - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Thursday, May 19, 2022 | Phillips
  • "With painting, I always get the feeling that you’re sort of entering into a shared space. There’s everyone who’s painted in the past, and everyone who is painting in the present." 
    —Joe Bradley

    Manifesting itself with an indelible presence, Joe Bradley’s Nomad is a quintessential example of the gestural paintings the artist created following his breakthrough series of “robot” paintings. Painted in 2016, this monumental work exemplifies the distinct shift in Bradley’s practice that saw him move away from his multi-panel, minimalist works and embrace a more expressionistic idiom. While Bradley initially integrated references to totemic stick figures, Nomad exemplifies his increased tendency towards all-over abstraction as the series progressed.

    Within a little more than a decade since his first solo exhibition, Bradley has established himself as one of the most important painters of his generation. Drawn to open-ended situations and a mutable approach to art making in a manner that recalls his artistic forebears Francis Picabia or Martin Kippenberger, he famously eschews a singular style or subject matter—working in distinct, often concurrent, series that pivot back and forth between abstraction and figuration, and the comic and the earnest, with a sly nod to the eclectic history of 20th century painting.

    Nomad epitomizes Bradley’s sophisticated engagement with the history of abstraction, its weathered textures and bold lines paying homage to the legacies of such painters as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Jean Dubuffet, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Philip Guston and Cy Twombly. And yet, as Bradley explained, while he does naturally absorb these art historical influences, ultimately “the idea is to sublimate that in the work and to come up with something that feels and looks like your own.”i

    "You need one foot on turf, on land, and one foot in the cosmos."
    —Joe Bradley

    Despite the stylistic diversity of his practice, Bradley’s unique sensitivity to materials and emphasis on the union of color and surface permeates throughout. Perfectly exemplifying Bradley’s process-oriented approach to painting, Nomad is the result of a methodological and prolonged painting process that often takes several months to complete. Addressing the physicality of the two-dimensional surface, Bradley topples the hierarchy of painting by taking it down from its pristine pedestal and literally throwing it onto the ground—working directly after a drawing or a found source image on an unstretched, unprimed cotton canvas that he lays out on the studio floor, folds, rolls, stacks and flips, before eventually tacking the canvas to the wall and ultimately stretching it on a frame. 

    Accumulating indexical marks of Bradley’s multi-layered process, the canvas is intentionally meant to pick up dirt and debris, footprints, smudges, handprints and paint splatter. This notion of “building damage into the work,” something that has interested Bradley throughout his practice, pulls the viewer’s attention away from the imagery to the very materiality of the painting. With a sly nod to the legacy of Jackson Pollock, who famously wrote about the sensation of being “in” his paintings, Bradley explained his process as follows: “You need one foot on turf, on land, and one foot in the cosmos.”ii

    i Joe Bradley, quoted in Eric Troncy, “Joe Bradley — interview by Eric Troncy,” Frog Magazine, fall 2014, online
    ii Joe Bradley, quoted in “Joe Bradley and Chris Martin,” The Journal, fall 2009, n.p

    • Provenance

      Canada, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

Property from a Noteworthy Private Collection



signed and dated "Joe Bradley 15" on the reverse
oil on canvas
57 x 46 in. (144.8 x 116.8 cm)
Painted in 2015.

Full Cataloguing

$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $226,800

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig
Specialist, Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
+1 212 940 1279

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 19 May 2022