Explore Mark Bradford’s career through his storied End Papers works.
Drawing on the diverse cultural and geographic makeup of his South Los Angeles community, Mark Bradford is known for his wall-size collages and installations from scavenged materials. These artworks are responses to the impromptu networks—underground economies, migrant communities, or popular appropriation of abandoned public space—that emerge within a city. This book focuses on some of Bradford’s earliest works which take the form of subtle abstract collages made from end papers, small translucent paper that protects hair from overheating, which he learned to use while working as a hairdresser in his mother’s salon. Part painting and part collage, the colored End Papers works feature grids that contain various hues that pulsate across the surface. Begun when he was a student at the California Institute of Art in the 1990s, the End Paper paintings were the beginning of his process of combining paper and paint. 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.” The exhibition and book examine the use of end papers as a fundamental motif in Bradford’s career and how he has returned to it in the past two decades. The essay by Auping discusses how these early works led to his use of merchant's posters, broadsides, and even billboards he found in downtown Los Angeles to make his paintings.
MICHAEL AUPING is a curator and scholar of abstract expressionism, specializing in international developments in postwar art. From 1993 to 2017, he was Chief Curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.