Mark Bradford - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, November 15, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Mark Bradford’s 2010 collage, Untitled, seems to defy its materiality: shedding off the canvas in some areas, melting away in others. The text-centered work appears to be a reappropriated flyer—one can make out the words “Dementia,” “Alzheimers,” “Memory Loss”—although the details below those words becomes murky. Are they letters at all? Perhaps numbers or symbols? Like an eyesight examination, Untitled becomes less and less legible the further down the viewer looks. For Bradford, this is intentional. In his explorations of collage and de-collage, the artist builds up the surface, both physically and conceptually, and then just as easily takes it away.


    Bradford’s collage practice started in the 1990s, when the artist began using paper products from his mother’s hair salon in South Central Los Angeles. This was a turning point for Bradford, who was now able to merge ephemera from his life with his abstract painting practice. From this point on, Bradford became a scavenger of sorts, employing graphic materials such as posters, flyers, and handouts in his art. He works without prepared drawings, instead layering paper before peeling away and sanding down his surfaces in a continual process of building up and tearing down.

    “Mark’s work is significant because it defines art practice in relation to himself and his history, and also in relation to aesthetics.”
    —Thelma Golden
    This can be seen in Bradford’s 2010 series of prints, Merchant Posters, with which the unique Untitled shares many formal similarities. These prints were inspired by local advertisements that the artist had found in a low-income neighborhood of Los Angeles. With the posters as a starting point, Bradford embellished, edited and distorted the found material until it became wholly his own. A comparable series of twelve works, titled Dementia and made in the year 2009, is in the permanent collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. This series employs a Warhol-like seriality to similarly obfuscate the text on the posters with words like "Dementia," revealing fragments here and there but refusing to allow full decipherability. Furthering these ideas, Untitled speaks to the bricoleur aspect of Bradford’s practice and the ways in which he uses found materials as a palimpsest to address the concerns of not only his immediate community, but also of the world at large.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection



signed, inscribed and dated "51 Mark Bradford c. 2010" on the reverse
mixed media paper collage
31 3/4 x 26 in. (80.6 x 66 cm)
Executed in 2010.

Full Cataloguing

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $127,000

Contact Specialist

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 15 November 2023