Profile: Mark Bradford (1961-)

Born in Los Angeles in 1961, Mark Bradford earned a BFA in 1995 and an MFA in 1997 from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia. From a young age, Bradford worked in his mother’s salon and referred to himself as a “beauty operator,” continuing to do so even as he earned recognition in the visual arts. Bradford’s early work often incorporated the tools of his trade, including singed permanent-wave endpapers, cellophane hair color, and human hair. In collage paintings like Daddy, Daddy, Daddy (2001), Bradford overlaid the translucent endpapers parallel to one another, their burned edges forming an imperfect, all-over grid. The corporeal mediums and delicate colors create a sense of intimacy and even nostalgia. However, this large-scale work’s burnt materials and compulsive, labor-intensive process could appear threatening, as reminders of a culturally mandated beauty regime. Though the composition is abstract, the materials evoke elements of Bradford’s personal narrative as well as the social and political significance of hair styling—especially hair straightening—in the black community. Continue reading Profile: Mark Bradford (1961-)