Mark Bradford - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 5, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    "The conversations I was interested in were about community, fluidity, about a merchant dynamic, and the details that point to a genus of change." – MARK BRADFORD

    Mark Bradford was born and raised in south Los Angeles, in a neighbourhood that experienced a gradual but seismic change in social and cultural demographics. Revered for drawing inspiration from the environment around him, Bradford continually engages with his surroundings. Paper is, perhaps, the most important medium for Bradford. He sees it as a container of information, inseparable with memory, but at the same time, it is an unforgiving material. He scoured the streets of south Los Angeles. for fragments of newspaper, magazines, and posters, creating monumental collages and installations.

    This sculpture, taking the shape of soccer balls, is Bradford’s commentary on the social and cultural issues that pervaded his own surroundings. Beyond the superficial appearance and title, Soccer Ball Bag 1 scrutinises the complex structures of urban culture and highlights the intricate social undercurrents. The soccer balls embody deliberate constructions and deconstructions, the theme transcending Bradford’s oeuvre, much like the communities in the neighbourhood. The individual balls, while similar in shape and sizes, were uniquely reassembled with estrange and separate pieces of paper, reuniting to form a cohesive whole. Slightly misshapen and rough, the soccer balls are charmingly flawed - much like the urban streets from which they came from. Finally, the net, mirroring the streets, holds all the balls together in one unifying bundle. The fragments of the past congregate to form the present and, eventually delineate the future.

  • Artist Biography

    Mark Bradford

    American • 1961

    Now acclaimed worldwide, Mark Bradford was first recognized on the contemporary art scene in 2001, following the inclusion of his multi-layered collage paintings in Thelma Golden’s Freestyle exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem. The groundbreaking exhibition introduced him alongside 27 other emerging African American artists as part of a generation of "post-Black" artists who sought to transcend the label of "Black artist”, while still deeply exploring and re-defining the complex notions of blackness. Bradford’s ascent has been as awe-inspiring as it is deserving: from critical attention in Freestyle, to his first solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in 2007, to his installation at the 2017 Venice Biennial as the first African American artist to represent the United States.

    Critical of the ways in which the annals of art history divorced abstract art from its political context, particularly when looking at the Abstract Expressionists working in the 1950s, Bradford has endeavored to “make abstract painting and imbue it with policy, and political, and gender, and race, and sexuality”. Bradford’s pursuit of what he has termed “social abstraction”, that is, “abstract art with a social or political context clinging to the edges”, is deeply indebted to his choice of materials that allow him to imbue his works with a proliferation of readings, from art historical, to political, to autobiographical.

    Bradford’s choice of material has always been deeply connected to his biography and everyday existence. While Bradford’s early work utilized end-papers, the use of which was inspired by time at his mother’s hair salon, in the mid-2000s the artist shifted towards using paper material sourced on the streets of his immediate neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. Despite the fact that Bradford is known for making paintings out of found printed material, his works only reveals glimpses of their original documentary intent. Working in the lineage of the Dadaists and the Nouveau Réalisme movement, Bradford honed a refined technique of a décollage, a process defined by cutting, tearing away or otherwise removing, pieces of an original image.

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Soccer Ball Bag 1

nylon string and paper on soccer balls
127 x 66 x 66 cm. (50 x 25 7/8 x 25 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2011.

£80,000 - 120,000 

Contact Specialist
Tamila Kerimova
+ 44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 6 October 2016