“150 Portrait Tone” – Mark Bradford’s Powerful Mural at the LACMA

(LA Trend) — One of the most socially relevant installations at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is Mark Bradford’s “150 Portrait Tone”, a massive mural that mixes abstraction and realism that was conceived after the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by a police officer in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in July 2016. In the controversial incident, Castile, a nutrition services supervisor at an elementary school, was shot after being pulled over in his car, and was live-streamed on Facebook by Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was sitting in the passenger seat next to him as the tragedy occurred. It was an event whose impact is still felt today, and Bradford’s “150 Portrait Tone” is a reminder of the various social issues that we continue to face today.

This provocative work features excerpts of Reynolds’s dialogue from that infamous viral video that helped spark a monumental movement. The work’s title, “150 Portrait Tone”, is a reference to the name and color code of the pink acrylic used on the painting itself. Similar to the now-defunct “Flesh” crayon in the Crayola 64 box (which was eventually renamed “Peach” in 1962), the color “Portrait Tone” carries inherent assumptions about who, exactly, is being represented. And while the connection between the name of a color being used and the subject of Bradford’s painting, the title offers a grave commentary on such topics as power and the way it’s depicted in society.

A native of Los Angeles, Mark Bradford received his BFA and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, and is renowned for transforming materials picked up from the street into wall-size collages and installations that respond to the spontaneous networks—underground economies, migrant communities, or popular appropriation of abandoned public space—that often pop up in cities.

Bradford primarily takes his inspiration from varied cultural and geographic features that comprise his southern Californian community, and often refers to his personal background as a third-generation merchant there. His videos and intricate, multilayered paper collages call to mind the organization of streets and buildings in downtown Los Angeles, in addition to images of crowds, such as the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s and the contemporary protests concerning immigration issues.

Throughout his notable career, Bradford has been the recipient of countless awards, including the Bucksbaum Award (2006); the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2003); and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2002); and has had his works featured in many prestigious exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2006); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2003); REDCAT, Los Angeles (2004); and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2001).


Los Angeles County Museum of Art

5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

“Mark Bradford: 150 Portrait Tone” is located in the Resnick Pavilion and is an ongoing exhibit.

Click here to visit LACMA’s official website.

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Joe Garza | Editor

Joe Garza is an LA-based writer and musician. With a deep passion for the arts, his interests include screenwriting, reading, composing, and playing guitar and piano.

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