Artist Mark Bradford, who is featured in the American pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which is being presented by the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Artist Mark Bradford, who is featured in the American pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which is being presented by the Baltimore Museum of Art. (Joshua White / HANDOUT)

The Baltimore Museum of Art announced Thursday that it is acquiring five new works of contemporary art by such major figures as Mark Bradford and Ellsworth Kelly.

The works include a painting and a video by Bradford -- the first of his pieces to be owned by the BMA; the museum's first digitally animated installation; and its first photograph by Kelly, which will supplement the museum's already substantial collection of work by this leading American artist. Both Bradford works were donated anonymously, and the rest were purchased by the museum.

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"Each of the works entering our collection is produced by artists fundamental to the development of American modern and contemporary art," the museum's director, Christopher Bedford, said in a news release, "and many are in direct dialogue with the social and political conditions of their day."

The acquisitions range from painting to video and photography, Bedford said, and cover a time period from mid-20th century to today.

The acquisitions of Bradford's works -- a large painting created in 2016 called "My Grandmother Felt The Color" and a three-minute video titled "Niagara" --  were not completely unexpected.

The Baltimore museum has been commissioned to present the U.S. Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale in May, and the exhibit will showcase Bradford's paintings and a cultural outreach project.

In addition to preparing his work for the Biennale, known as the Olympics of the art world, Bradford has been working on a monumental installation for Washington's Hirshhorn Museum. The eight paintings, each 45 feet long, will be called "Picket's Charge" and will encircle the entire third floor. There already has been considerable buzz in the art world about that series, which will go on view in November and be on display for a full year.

The other BMA acquisitions include:

  • "Autumn Flight," a 1956 painting by Norman Lewis, an African-American pioneer of the Abstract Expressionist movement and an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance
  • A digital installation by Paul Chan that will examine America in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and
  • "Stairway, St. Martin," a 1977 photo by Kelly of a staircase crossed by light and shadows and flattened until it appears two-dimensional.

Bradford's painting already is on display at the museum. The remaining works will go on view between now and next summer.

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

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