Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy - Crossing the Threshold

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Image of Crossing the Threshold

Mark Bradford , b. November 20, 1961

Crossing the Threshold

48 in. x 60 in. (121.92 cm x 152.4 cm)

Medium and Support: Mixed media collage on canvas
Credit Line: Museum purchase with support of the African American Art Acquisition Fund
Accession Number: 2009.80


Mark Bradford scavenges materials all of which have in the artist’s words, a “built-in history,” from the streets near his studio in South Central Los Angeles to integrate into mixed-media works on canvas that are rich in texture and visual complexity. These large-scale, abstract collages are assembled out of bits of billboards, handmade advertisements, foil, string, and permanent wave end-papers from beauty shops arranged, layered, singed, sanded, and bleached into brilliantly hued and dynamic painterly compositions that seem to sprawl and swirl. Loosely gridded and often map-like, these “paintings” reference the artist’s interest in the formal traditions of modernist abstraction as well as the urban communities from which he excavates his materials.

One of the Addison’s recent acquisitions, Crossing the Threshold is part of a series of “white” paintings with titles drawn from a book the artist read about hidden messages contained in the Sistine Chapel that have the supposed power to unlock the mysteries of the universe. In a similar way, the densely layered color, text, and imagery lying beneath the mostly white surface of these abstract paintings offer the viewer glimpses into a mysterious subtext of alternate and parallel realities.

Allison Kemmerer
Curator of Photography and Contemporary Art

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