Amendment #8

Media - 2015.34 - SAAM-2015.34_1 - 116878
Copied Mark Bradford, Amendment #8, 2014, mixed media, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Lohrfink Foundation and museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, 2015.34, © 2014, Mark Bradford

Artwork Details

Title
Amendment #8
Date
2014
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
48 14 × 68 18 in. (122.6 × 173.0 cm)
Copyright
© 2014, Mark Bradford
Credit Line
Gift of the Lohrfink Foundation and museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment
Mediums Description
mixed media
Classifications
Keywords
  • Abstract
Object Number
2015.34

Artwork Description

Mark Bradford is known for his densely layered paintings that combine urban debris and abstract forms. Although Bradford refers to his compositions as paintings, paint is never the primary medium. Instead, he uses string, wire, billboard paper, and other materials found in the neighborhood surrounding his studio. Bradford applies these salvaged elements and then sands them down to reveal the work's hidden topography--revealing layer upon layer of multicolored debris.

Amendment #8 comes from a series inspired by the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. Collectively known as the Bill of Rights, these amendments lay out the fundamental rights that protect Americans from abuses of government power. The Eighth Amendment states that "excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." Portions of this text are visible, albeit barely legible, in shallow relief on the surface of Bradford's painting. The obscured text suggests how laws can be manipulated to inhibit, rather than uphold, the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.

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