About this artwork
Mark Bradford’s monumental abstract paintings comprise countless small fragments — often materials scavenged from storefronts, telephone poles, and billboards in the South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles, where he grew up. The artist has explained, “I love the papered ‘mosaics’ I see in the community advertising the latest latest… . [When] the billboards are nice and thick and are about to fall off … I pull down what I need to create my collages… . Like those tagged up, repainted, tagged up, sanded, and repainted walls you pass everyday on the street, my process is both reductive and additive.” Bradford is also known for redeploying hair dye and wave endpapers from his mother’s salon, where he worked on and off for many years, and more recently for using home-repair caulking to amplify ridges and depths. It is usually impossible to recognize such individual materials on his surfaces; the power of Bradford’s work is the power of cumulative materiality, at once enigmatic and evocative.
The sweeping composition of A Siren beside a Ship is built up from a mix of carbon paper, caulking, and acrylic gel medium that Bradford relentlessly layered, sanded, and layered again to create a dense, suggestive texture. The surface’s striations recall rippling water and seascape paintings, which the artist has said summon for him the dark histories of conquistadors, colonization, and the transatlantic slave trade. Given this work’s title, the wavelike markings also reference the dangerously enchanting voices of the Sirens of Greek mythology, as well as the sound of a modern-day alarm, combining a sense of allure with one of urgent warning.
Currently Off View
- Contemporary Art
- Mark Bradford
- A Siren Beside a Ship
- United States
- Mixed media on canvas
- 259.1 × 365.7 cm (102 × 144 in.)
- Gift of Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida Collection