Mark Bradford

Great Artists

Mark Bradford's "Killing the Goodbye"

Mark Bradford

American artist Mark Bradford was working as a hair stylist in his mother's beauty salon in Los Angeles when he had an epiphany that would lead to his international acclaim as an artist. The end papers used to protect hair during the perming process could be used to create art! The cheap and delicate sheets became his primary medium. Layered on top of each other, bits of paper made stunning art, as seen in the mixed medium piece, left, "Let's Walk to the Middle of the Ocean" (2015). 

Photo of artist Mark Bradford, Credit...Filippo Massellani for The New York Times
Mark Bradford at Venice Biennale, 2017. Credit: Filippo Massellani for The New York Times

Bradford, born in 1961 in Los Angeles, has become one of the most influential artists in America, exploring issues of class, race, and gender. His art includes collages, sculptures, videos, and massive art installations. Bradford lives and works in the South Los Angeles neighborhood of his youth, where the 6'8" artist is well-known and deeply involved in bringing art to his urban community. 

Bradford was almost 40 before being invited to participate in a 2001 exhibition of young Black artists at the Studio Museum in Harlem where he was recognized for his original and evocative art. By 2017, Bradford was selected to exhibit his work at the official United States pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Bradford uses found and salvaged materials, a kind of archeologist of his city's streets and often layering his art on top of maps or using text to make a statement. His work addresses historical and current issues, including Black slavery and the L.A. riots of the 1990s – and sells for record-breaking prices. In 2018, Bradford's "Helter Skelter 1" was sold at auction to the Broad Museum of Los Angeles for almost $12 million. 

Mark Bradford art in gallery
From left, Bradford’s “Jungle Jungle,” 2021; “Where Lee Goodwin Was Jailed & Lynched,” 2023; and “Haint Blue,” 2023. Credit: Mark Bradford and Hauser & Wirth; Photo by Thomas Barratt, New York Times

See a 2019 interview with Mark Bradford by Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes:

Resources also include:

"Mark Bradford Strikes a Pose of Quiet Self-Reflection," by John Vincler, New York Times, June 14, 2023; "An Artist’s Mythic Rebellion for the Venice Biennale," by Jori Finkel, New York Times, April 27, 2017; Hauser & Wirth (

If you are inspired by this artist, respond to the challenge with your creations!


  • Drawing

    Many people express themselves in their own way. I draw, and express myself through the means of painting. I like to paint in my spare time.

  • Painting Hour

    Colors combine together into darkness

    My brush coats the canvas

    Deep blues

    Dark purples and reds

    I attempt to recreate the feeling of darkness