Artist Mark Bradford Is Shipping His Plywood Noah’s Ark to Shanghai for His Biggest Show in China Yet

Bradford's boat sculpture, which first appeared at Prospect.1 New Orleans in 2008, will be the centerpiece of the show.

Wang Wei, director of the Long Museum and Mark Bradford. Photo by Stefanie Keenan, courtesy of the Long Museum.
Wang Wei, director of the Long Museum and Mark Bradford. Photo by Stefanie Keenan, courtesy of the Long Museum.

American artist Mark Bradford is getting his largest show in China to date, courtesy of Shanghai’s Long Museum. The exhibition, “Mark Bradford: Los Angeles,” which opens in July, covers the last decade of Bradford’s career, but his large-scale public sculpture Mirthra (2008), which first appeared in Prospect.1 New Orleans, will serve as its centerpiece.

This marks the first time that Mithra is being shown outside of the US. The sculpture, a full-scale boat constructed from plywood panels picked off the streets of New Orleans after 2005’s catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, is a visual reference to Noah’s ark. It is a tangible representation of how hard the devastating storm hit the city’s African American community, but also a symbol of hope.

At the Long Museum, Bradford will take over the cavernous first-floor galleries at the Long Museum, installing a new 40-foot-tall site-specific work, Waterfall, consisting of deconstructed painting strips, cascading down the double-height central foyer.

The exhibition will also feature his latest series of large-scale paintings (2018–19) inspired by the civil unrest of Los Angeles’s Watts Rebellion in 1965.

Mark Bradford, Mithra (2008). Installation view, Prospect.1, New Orleans (2008). Photo ©Mark Bradford, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

Mark Bradford, Mithra (2008). Installation view, Prospect.1, New Orleans. Photo ©Mark Bradford, courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

“Mark’s radical approach to painting, through both material and content, has established new terms and possibilities for the genre,” said the show’s curator, Diana Nawi, in a statement. “His works are gestural palimpsests of paint, canvas, paper, rope and everyday materials; messily sublime objects that can be read as maps, artifacts, critiques, memorials, and manifestations of presence. They offer a striking interplay between form and surface, and notions of identity, site and history.”

Bradford represented the US at the 57th Venice Biennale, and in 2014 received the US Department of State’s Medal of Arts. He was commissioned in 2018 to create a site-specific work, We the People, based on text from the US Constitution, for the new US Embassy in London.

Mark Bradford, Mithra (2008). Installation view, Prospect.1, New Orleans (2008). Photo ©Mark Bradford, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

Mark Bradford, Mithra (2008). Installation view, Prospect.1, New Orleans. Photo ©Mark Bradford, courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

The Long Museum show will be free and open to the public.

“Mark Bradford: Los Angeles” will be on view at the Long Museum (West Bund), No. 3398, Longteng Avenue, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China, July 27–October 13, 2019. It is free and open to the public.


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