Mark Bradford (b. 1961)
Six etching and photogravures with chine collé
Each sheet: 20 × 16 inches
Printed by Lower East Side Printshop, New York
Published by Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. © 2020 Mark Bradford
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Known for large-scale works using collage processes, Mark Bradford has occasionally engaged the more intimately-scaled medium of prints. Like much of his practice, these etchings are based on “merchant posters” the artist has salvaged over the years from the telephone poles, construction sites, and shop windows around Los Angeles. These brightly colored, commercially printed advertisements saturate the streetscape, targeting residents in moments of crisis or everyday need by offering services ranging from quick divorce and immigration papers to check cashing and the monetization of long hair. Each of Bradford’s prints was made from two plates: the gritty, scratched backgrounds recalling weathered urban surfaces were printed from the backs of used etching plates from the Lower East Side Printshop; the “poster,” traced by hand and scaled down, was then printed on top. As this project repurposes found printed materials and deftly relocates their imagery from the local streets to the gallery, it makes visible the social, economic, and racial systems at work in low-income communities, even as the posters’ legibility is tested.
Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The sheer density of advertising creates a psychic mass, an overlay that can sometimes be very tense or aggressive. [...] As a citizen, you have to participate in that every day. You have to walk by until it's changed.
— MARK BRADFORD, interviewed by Art21
Mark Bradford with a merchant poster.
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.