Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Mark Bradford (American, b. 1969)

Thriller, 2009

Photomechanical reproductions, acrylic gel medium, carbon paper, twine, paper, acrylic paint, caulking, and additional mixed media on canvas

101 × 142 in. (256.5 × 360.7 cm)

Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange

The title of the work refers to Bradford’s process of addition and the subtraction. A poster advertising the reissue of Michael Jackson’s 1982 album “Thriller” was originally embedded in the center of the composition, but was subsequently removed during the process of sanding. Thriller also incorporates drawn areas using a piped acrylic that are dominated by wavy undulating lines—an element that was directly influenced by the graphics of weather mapping, such as the aerial views of the storm patterns of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

Bradford has described this work as “an imprint of another surface created by this sort of deeply saturated black, inky paper that I used… .By chance, I covered up the painting with a silver paper and decided I didn’t like it, so I was pulling off one of the sheets, because it’s like wallpaper… and I kind of threw it over to the side and I just happened to glance over, and I noticed the back of it was stained with the imprint of the front of the painting. And I thought, “Oh, that’s really nice.” So I ended up actually going back and taking them all off very carefully and it created, like, a mirror, an inky mirror image of a painting that actually wasn’t even finished.”