Mark Bradford at The Whitney / by Leslie Fandrich

It was the perfect Birthday present. Amazing art in a beautiful new building with my husband and kiddos. It was glorious. The work there for the inaugural show "America is Hard to See" is outstanding and more inclusive of women and minorities than ever before. So much good work to see. 

This piece by Mark Bradford is so exciting to me. It's paper he found on the street and collaged into this intricate map of colors and textures. I aspire to create something this great and I'm very interested in the endless layering of paper and the sanding down of it to reveal interesting combinations and relationships.

I'm also slightly obsessed with graffiti and street art. I was pulling all kinds of paper off the walls of the Lower East Side last May when I was in the city with my Ladies, and hunted the bowels of Grand Central Station for some magical bin of discarded advertising that my gallery director told me about. We never found it, but the hunt continues...

In my own work this is a direction I would like to explore. Looser, more abstract and somehow a bit more raw. 

Mark Bradford’s multilayered works reveal his interest in the urban transformations and economics of South Los Angeles. Bradford’s technique involves building up a composition with layers of paper—often fragments of posters or ephemera salvaged from the street—that he soaks in water and combines with string, tape, and scraps of copy and magazine paper. He then sands down the collaged strata, exposing the under layers and excavating webs of embedded string, before building it up again with additional layers of collage. Repeating this process several times yields a ridged, mosaic-like surface, hinting at narrative while remaining largely abstract. The combination of dense networks of gridded passages and wavy lines with more open areas demarcated by layers of silver paper lends Bread and Circuses a cartographic character. The title invites a political reading, as it appropriates a Latin phrase that literally means “bread and circuses” and more broadly implies a form of appeasement, whereby a population is distracted from its poverty, disenfranchisement, or lack of mobility by superficial means of entertainment.