The U.S. Department of Cultural Affairs has announced that Mark Bradford will be the representative for the United States at La Biennale di Venezia 57th International Art Exhibition, the world’s most prestigious contemporary art event. Bradford, one of today’s leading international artists, is known for his work across media inspiring cross-cultural dialogue on social, political, and economic issues facing underserved urban communities. He will create a new site-specific installation for the U.S. Pavilion in Venice, Italy, to be on view May 13–November 26, 2017.
The U.S. Pavilion is commissioned and co-curated by Christopher Bedford, the Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass, and Katy Siegel, Rose Art Museum Curator at Large and Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Endowed Chair in Modern American Art, Stony Brook University. Bradford’s exhibition at the U.S. Pavilion will be the first Venice Biennale project presented by the Rose Art Museum.
“The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University is honored to present the work of Mark Bradford as the official United States Representative to the 2017 Venice Biennale,” commented Bedford. “As the leading American abstract painter of his generation and a vigorous advocate for the interests of under-represented urban communities in the U.S. and beyond, Bradford creates work that embodies art’s capacity to both inspire wonder and catalyze enduring social change. Similarly, the Rose’s renowned collection of postwar art is rooted in a commitment to material invention and expanding knowledge through culture, while Brandeis’s investment in social justice as a core value permeates the work of every teaching and research unit of the University. It is with the greatest pleasure that we announce our collaboration with Mark Bradford: no artist could be better aligned with the character of our institution or better positioned to represent the United States in the 21st century.”
Based in Los Angeles, Mark Bradford’s sweeping canvases recapture mid-century American art’s capacity to conjure the sublime and evoke deep feeling, while incorporating layers of social comment. In parallel with his work in the studio, Bradford maintains a social practice, anchored by his Los Angeles-based not-for-profit, Art + Practice, an educational platform that emphasizes practical skills for foster youth and stresses the cultural importance of art within a larger social context. These equivalent commitments to formal invention and social activism anchor Bradford’s contribution to culture at large, embodying his belief that contemporary artists can reinvent the world we share.
Mark Bradford was born in 1961 in Los Angeles, where he lives and works. He received a BFA (1995) and MFA (1997) from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. Best known for his large-scale abstract paintings that examine the class-, race-, and gender-based economies that structure urban society in the United States, Bradford’s richly layered and collaged canvases represent a connection to the social world through materials. Bradford uses fragments of found posters, billboards, newsprint and custom printed paper to simultaneously engage with and advance the formal traditions of abstract painting.
Solo exhibitions include Scorched Earth at the Hammer Museum (2015), Sea Monsters at the Rose Art Museum (2014), Aspen Art Museum (2011), Maps and Manifests at Cincinnati Art Museum (2008), and Neither New Nor Correct at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2007). In 2009, Mark Bradford was the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Award. In 2010, Mark Bradford, a large-scale survey of his work, was organized by Christopher Bedford and presented at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, before traveling to the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
His work has been widely exhibited and has been included in group shows at LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2014), Whitney Museum of American Art (2013), the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011), Seoul Biennial (2010), the Carnegie International (2008), São Paulo Biennial (2006), and Whitney Biennial (2006).
The United States Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, a building in the neo-classical style, opened on May 4, 1930. Since 1986, The U.S. Pavilion has been owned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and managed by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, which works closely with the Department of State and exhibition curators to install and maintain all official U.S. exhibitions presented in the Pavilion. Every two years, museum curators from across the U.S. detail their visions for the U.S. Pavilion in proposals that are reviewed by the NEA Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions (FACIE), a group comprising curators, museum directors, and artists who then submit their recommendations to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Past exhibitions can be viewed on the Peggy Guggenheim Collection website at: