The Necessity of

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Mark Bradford - MAKING A PATH

Thought-leaders to discuss race, art & power

10.11.17. written + edited by Janel St. John

In 2010, Christopher Bedford organized Mark Bradford’s first museum survey. The critically acclaimed exhibition “Mark Bradford” toured the country. Bedford was the chief curator and curator of exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University. Mark Bradford was an emerging abstract artist who had just won the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” award. Seven years later, the two collaborated again on the U.S. Pavilion for the 2017 Venice Biennale. The world’s most prestigious contemporary art fair, with Bedford serving as U.S. Commissioner, debuted an exhibition of new work by Mark Bradford! As you can see - great, wonderful and mighty things happen when these two collaborate! And now, they are coming together again for The Necessity of Tomorrow(s).

On Saturday, November 11, 2017, The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) is launching a series of free creative conversations and social events that bring together nationally recognized artists and thought-leaders to consider key ideas at the intersection of art, race and social justice. The Necessity of Tomorrow(s) series kicks off with a conversation between acclaimed artist Mark Bradford and BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director, Christopher Bedford. Drawing on themes explored in Bradford’s Venice Biennale installation, Tomorrow Is Another Day, their conversation will focus on the topic of making a path to power where none has existed before, a theme often explored in Bradford’s work.


The event - which includes live music, light refreshments, art activities, and community conversation - will be held at the historic Union Baptist Church at 1201 Druid Hill Avenue from 12:00 PM to 3:30 PM Admission is FREE but registration is required; the doors open at 11:30 AM. The event will also be live-streamed at Morgan State University’s Murphy Fine Arts Center Recital Hall to provide broader access. With music by DJ Pierre Bennu, Baltimore-based musician Clarence Ward III and poet Kondwani Fidel are also scheduled to perform.

The Necessity of Tomorrow(s) borrows its title from an essay by science fiction author Samuel Delaney that argues for the role of creative speculation in making a more just future. Bradford’s conversation with Bedford will explore how he changed the course of his life when he was 30 years old to eventually become one of the most accomplished artists of his generation. Bradford will discuss his exhibition for the United States Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and Art + Practice, the nonprofit he co-founded in South Los Angeles to support the needs of local foster youth. RESERVE A FREE TICKET.





As Baltimore’s civic museum, we believe it is incumbent upon us to use our exhibitions, collections, and public programs as platforms to engage the most urgent questions of our time.

- BMA Director Christopher Bedford

Mark Bradford’s life and work... his activities as an artist, activist, advocate, and philanthropist will resonate deeply across the city of Baltimore as we imagine our futures together.





Bedford is the 10th director to lead BMA. Born in Scotland and raised in the United States and the UK, he is recognized as an innovative and dynamic leader for building greater community engagement and creating programs of national and international impact. Bedford served as director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, prior to joining the BMA and was appointed as Commissioner for the U.S. Pavilion for the 2017 Venice Biennale.

Bradford was born in 1961 in Los Angeles, where he lives and works. Hailed as America's leading abstract painter of his generation, he merges the formal qualities of abstract expressionism with the need to have his art address cultural issues. He uses fragments of found posters, billboards, newsprint and custom printed paper to create works that are informed by personal experience and historical significance and have a connection to the social world through materials. His latest solo exhibitions include Scorched Earth at the Hammer Museum in 2015 and Sea Monsters at the Rose Art Museum in 2014 and Aspen Art Museum in 2011. Bradford was selected to represent the U.S. at the 2017 Venice Biennale. In 2014, he received the U.S. Department of State’s Medal of Arts. He earned his BFA and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia.


Mark Bradford addresses the press on opening day of his exhibition at the Wexner Center for the Arts in 2010; with Christopher Bedford (far left) and Janel St. John, founder & publisher, The Conscious Voice. Photo by Al Zanyk, courtesy of the Wexner Center.



Christopher Bedford and Mark Bradford with Wexner Director Sherri Geldin (center) and Nancy Kramer, founder and chair of Resource/Ammirati, an IBM Company, at the public opening of the 2010 show. Photo by Jo McCulty, courtesy of the Wex.



NOV 6th kicks off the official MARK BRADFORD WEEK in the DMV!! DC-MD-VA...Hooray!! #mb17



In his first solo exhibition in D.C., Mark Bradford will present Pickett's Charge, a monumental commissioned cyclorama of paintings at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., opening Nov 8, 2017. The new work is inspired by artist Paul Philippoteaux’s nineteenth-century cyclorama in Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania. Created in 1883, Philippoteaux’s work depicts the final charge of the Battle of Gettysburg, which historians cite as the critical turning point of the Civil War and, consequently, of American history. Working with a combination of colored paper and reproductions of the original, Bradford collages and transforms the historic Gettysburg imagery into a series of eight powerful, abstract paintings, each more than forty-five feet long. Together, they will encircle the entire Third Level in a 360-degree panoramic experience. The resulting work weaves past and present, illusion and abstraction, inviting viewers to reconsider how narratives about American history are shaped and contested.


Mark Bradford, Pickett's Charge: The High-Water Mark, (detail). 2017. Hirshhorn. Photo by Joshua White



BREAKING...In advance of Pickett's Charge, opening at the Hirshhorn, the Wall Street Journal names Mark Bradford 'Art Innovator of 2017!' Full story.



Tomorrow is Another Day, Bradford’s installation for the U.S. Pavilion in Venice, Italy, was featured in the August 2017 issue of Vogue. Photographer Mario Testino captured Dutch model Birgit Kos in a myriad of looks, along with Bradford, his work, Spoiled Foot (right) and scenes from 57th VENICE BIENNALE. See entire feature at Vogue.




BMA acquires works by Mark Bradford







Carrie Mae Weems at BMA


Shantell Martin + Adam Pendleton


Kerry James Marshall: MASTRY


Romare Bearden

Hank Willis Thomas at BMA