Internationally renowned artist Mark Bradford (b. 1961) will debut Pickett’s Charge, a monumental new commission inspired by artist Paul Philippoteaux’s nineteenth-century cyclorama in Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania. Philippoteaux’s cyclorama, created in 1883, depicts the final charge of the Battle of Gettysburg, which historians cite as the critical turning point of the Civil War and, consequently, of American history. Working with a combination of colored paper and reproductions of the original, Bradford collages and transforms the historic Gettysburg imagery into a series of eight powerful, abstract paintings. Each painting is more than forty-five feet long, and together, they will encircle the entire Third Level in a 360-degree panoramic experience. By cutting, tearing, and scraping through the layers, Bradford reveals the hidden textures and complexities lurking just beneath the surface. The resulting work weaves past and present, illusion and abstraction, inviting visitors to reconsider how narratives about American history are shaped and contested. Posed with his trademark fearlessness, Bradford’s open questions—or rather, the deliberations his work elicits—are particularly timely in contemporary America. And considering that the Hirshhorn is situated on the National Mall, these questions are made even timelier.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website