‘Emotionally and Physically, You Have to Keep at It’: Mark Bradford on His Epic Painting Cycle at the Hirshhorn Museum, ‘Pickett’s Charge’
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‘Emotionally and Physically, You Have to Keep at It’: Mark Bradford on His Epic Painting Cycle at the Hirshhorn Museum, ‘Pickett’s Charge’

Installation view of “Mark Bradford: Pickett’s Charge,” 2017–18, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Pickett’s Charge , a group of eight humongous, mixed media artworks that Mark Bradford completed last year, may stop you in your tracks. That’s what happened to me at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. I became transfixed. Instantly. Wherever I looked, I was captivated by reds, blues, and yellows; linear networks stretching across vast spaces; images of uniformed Union soldiers, cannon, trees, and dead horses; and lots of peeling paper, clumped passages, and taut, patterned ropes. Picture a three-dimensional Kenneth Noland stripe painting gone berserk. The massive, site-specific, historically informed abstractions fill every available wall space of the Washington, D.C. institution’s inner-circle galleries on its third floor—the ones that face the windows. All told, this extensive cycle, which is on view through November 12, occupies about 400 linear feet, with each part about 45 to 50 feet long and 12 feet high. Mark Bradford at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden working on Pickett’s Charge, 2017. Bradford’s epic panels call attention to the last bloody battle fought in Gettysburg seven score and fifteen years ago. A turning point in the War Between the […]

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