Mark Bradford. Courtesy of the Artist.
Mark Bradford. Courtesy of the Artist.

BMA will gain international recognition at the “Olympics of the art world”

BALTIMORE, MD (October 27, 2016)—The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University today announced that they will collaborate on the presentation of Mark Bradford as representative for the United States for the 2017 Venice Biennale. The Venice Biennale is the oldest and most prestigious international exhibition of visual art showcasing leading contemporary art from around the world. It is often referred to as the Olympics of the art world. The two institutions will work in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The new work being created by Bradford will be on view in Venice from May 13 to November 26, 2017.

Since its founding in 1895, the Venice Biennale has attracted millions of visitors from around the world who come to see the most innovative art of their time. In 2015, the Biennale had more than 500,000 visitors over nearly seven months and young people and students made up 31% of the total number of visitors. Additionally, more than 670 international media visited the U.S. Pavilion, garnering more than 1.5 billion print and online media impressions by media from over 30 countries.

The 2017 U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is being commissioned by BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director Christopher Bedford and co-curated by Bedford and Katy Siegel. Bedford served as director of the Rose Art Museum until August 1 and was appointed director of BMA effective August 15. Siegel was recently appointed Senior Programming and Research Curator at the BMA and also serves as a professor at Stony Brook University.

“The U.S. Pavilion is a high-profile platform for highlighting the innovation, ingenuity, and diversity of the American arts community. This wonderful collaboration enables us to dedicate the resources of two outstanding institutions in realizing Mark Bradford’s installation and related programming,” noted Bedford. “Mark’s focus on under-represented urban communities and social justice aligns with the interests of both the BMA and Brandeis, so our working together with him to advance these goals will
enhance the impact of this major new work.”

Based in Los Angeles, Mark Bradford’s sweeping canvases recapture mid-century American art’s capacity to conjure the sublime and evoke deep feeling, while incorporating layers of social comment. In parallel with his work in the studio, Bradford maintains a social practice, anchored by his Los Angeles-based non-profit, Art + Practice, an educational platform that emphasizes practical skills for foster youth and stresses the cultural importance of art within a larger social context. These equivalent commitments to formal invention and social activism anchor Bradford’s contribution to culture at large, embodying his belief that contemporary artists can reinvent the world we share.

This will be the second time the BMA has served as commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion. In 1960, the BMA was invited to organize the pavilion by Porter A. McCray, Chairman of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibition was co-curated by BMA Director Adelyn Breeskin and Chief Curator Dr. Gertrude Rosenthal, featuring four New York School abstract expressionist artists: Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, and Philip Guston, and sculptor Theodore Roszak.


Mark Bradford was born in 1961 in Los Angeles, where he lives and works. He received a BFA (1995) and MFA (1997) from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. Best known for his large-scale abstract paintings that examine the class-, race-, and gender-based economies that structure urban society in the United States, Bradford’s richly layered and collaged canvases represent a connection to the social world through materials. Bradford uses fragments of found posters, billboards, newsprint and custom printed paper to simultaneously engage with and advance the formal traditions of abstract painting.

Solo exhibitions include Scorched Earth at the Hammer Museum (2015), Sea Monsters at the Rose Art Museum (2014), Aspen Art Museum (2011), Maps and Manifests at Cincinnati Art Museum (2008), and Neither New Nor Correct at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2007). In 2009, Mark Bradford was the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Award. In 2010, Mark Bradford, a large-scale survey of his work, was organized by Christopher Bedford and presented at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, before traveling to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Bradford’s work has been widely exhibited and has been included in group shows at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2014), Whitney Museum of American Art (2013), the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011), Seoul Biennial (2010), the Carnegie International (2008), São Paulo Biennial (2006), and Whitney Biennial (2006).

The Baltimore Museum of Art is home to an internationally renowned collection of 19th-century, modern, and contemporary art. Founded in 1914 with a single painting, the BMA today has 95,000 objects—including the largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse. Throughout the museum, visitors will find an outstanding selection of American and European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; works by established and emerging contemporary artists; significant artworks from China; stunning Antioch mosaics; and an exceptional collection of art from Africa. The BMA’s galleries also showcase examples from one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs and exquisite textiles from around the world. The 210,000-square-foot museum is distinguished by a grand historic building designed in the 1920s by renowned American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped sculpture gardens. As a major cultural destination for the region, the BMA hosts a dynamic program of exhibitions, events, and educational programs throughout the year. General admission to the BMA is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.

Founded in 1961, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University is an educational and cultural institution dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting the finest of modern and contemporary art. The programs of the Rose adhere to the overall mission of the university, embracing its values of academic excellence, social justice and freedom of expression. The museum’s permanent collection of postwar and contemporary art is unequalled in New England and is among the best at any university art museum in the United States. For more information, visit

About the Baltimore Museum of Art

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.

Download PDF

Press Contacts

For media in Baltimore:

Anne Brown
Baltimore Museum of Art
Senior Director of Communications

Sarah Pedroni
Baltimore Museum of Art
Communications Manager

For media outside Baltimore:

Alina Sumajin
PAVE Communications