Mark Bradford - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 15, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The merchant posters break it down. They always make everything feel urgent and get your attention really fast.”


    In The Father’s “NO,” 2007, we see a brilliant juxtaposition of thought and practice, message and medium, placement and displacement. As the layers of silver coated papers intertwine, the acrylic colors combine, and the text emerges, a myriad of patterns, both abstracted and representative, reveal Bradford’s interest in raw material and the surrounds from which they are embedded. The present lot exists as a mirror of Bradford’ upbringing: his childhood borough, his mother’s hair salon and the streets he meandered. Here Bradford reinvents landscape painting, but without a brush, easel and expensive paint. His palette is comprised only of materials outside the studio combined to create a lush and brilliant composition which marries all the traditions of painting – historical, landscape and portrait – into one. In the present lot, Bradford boldly and boundlessly creates a system of representation, combining social identities into a critical discourse.

    The merchant posters from which these works are inspired are pulled and plucked from the walls and streets of the inner city boroughs of Los Angeles. In all capitals, beneath the layers of application, we read, “Fathers, do you want child custody • divorce • visitation. 866 -72, Daddy.” A hotline to call for fathers to gain custody or visitation rights for their children is repeated six times across the works, each rendered in a different hue and application of acrylic, felt-tip pen and collage. The application of material conceals the surface with layers of deep acrylic and peeling papers, which is already abused from being torn from the site. Bradford adds and subtracts in bursts of color and medium, creating a trace of what the poster once read, but only a trace. As Bradford notes, “I make the text less readily readable slightly out of focus so that the viewer is forced to look more closely.” (Mark Bradford, correspondence with Christopher Bedford, November 2, 2009) Bradford’s reimagining of these posters takes the services they advertise out of public circulation and pushes the text further and further towards abstraction, weathering away the urgency of the message to produce something more akin to a ruin. A ghostly portrayal of the advertisement lingers in the background, brilliantly disguised by Bradford, but never fully erased.


The Father’s “NO”

acrylic, felt-tip pen, silver coated paper, printed paper collage on gypsum
each 23 3/4 x 29 1/2 in. (60.3 x 74.9 cm.)
Each initialed and dated "MB 07" on the reverse.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $509,000

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Sale
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 15 May 2014 7PM