The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth presents the exhibition Mark Bradford: End Papers. Curated by Michael Auping, former Chief Curator at the Modern, this exhibition focuses upon the key material and fundamental motif the artist employed early in his career and has returned to periodically over the past two decades.
The pivotal works in this exhibition are primarily constructed from end papers, which Bradford learned to use as a hairdresser in his mother’s beauty salon in South Los Angeles. These small sheets of translucent paper protect hair from overheating in the process of using curlers to create permanent waves. Part painting and part collage, the colored End Paper works feature grids that contain various hues that pulsate across the surface. Bradford said recently, “I learned my own way of constructing paintings through the End Papers—how to create space, how to use color. And how to provide a new kind of content. They were the beginning for me.”
Bradford’s End Paper works not only allowed him to make beautiful abstract paintings but inspired the artist’s use of “social papers” that related to his biography and his neighborhood. From the End Papers, Bradford began using merchant’s posters, broadsides, and even billboards he found in downtown Los Angeles to make his paintings.
Auping comments, “The End Paper works are not only beautiful, they were prophetic in terms of layering abstraction with personal and social content. Much of the history of post–World War II art is about engaging common materials. This is a unique instance of that. The End Papers are a key element of Bradford’s identity. Just as a broad range of minimalists are inextricably linked to their signature materials, from Dan Flavin’s use of fluorescent tubes to Ruth Asawa’s weaving of galvanized wire, Bradford has adapted the materials and processes of the hairdressing profession to be both medium and message in his art.”
The exhibition will include approximately 35 major End Paper works drawn from private and public collections and new work created by the artist for this presentation.