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Radcliffe Bailey
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Bridgeton, New Jersey
Trained as a sculptor, Radcliffe Bailey is a mixed-media artist whose paintings often contain found objects and vintage photographs, sculptures contain a variety of found objects and prints combine etching, aquatint and reproduced photographs. His works explore both the history of African Americans and his own personal history and influences. Bailey considers himself a “trickster” in the tradition of the peoples of Central Africa. He is also influenced by jazz music and his mixed media paintings embody the spatial and environmental qualities of music. Bailey was born in Bridgeton, New Jersey in 1968. His family moved to Atlanta when he was four, where he attended public schools. His maternal grandparents had a profound influence on him. Bailey recalled spending summers with them at their home in Palmyra, Virginia, and building birdhouses with his grandfather. His schoolteacher mother took him to Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, giving him his first look at African art and works by African-American artists such as Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000), and enrolled him in art classes at the museum. An avid baseball player, he played semi-professional baseball for a year before following her prompting and enrolling in the Atlanta College of Art, where he majored in sculpture and received a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in 1991. His grandmother propelled his artistic vision the Christmas before he graduated with a gift of 400 vintage tintype photographs from the family’s collection. These photos and the stories of the family members depicted inform much of his art. Bailey’s work was included in a 1990 group exhibition at North Carolina Central University, Durham, N.C. while he was still in art school and in seven group exhibitions in 1991. His first solo museum show was at the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, N.C., in 1992, with another solo show that year in an Atlanta gallery. He affiliated with the Fay Gold Gallery in Atlanta in 1993, which gave him several one-man shows over the following years. Atlanta’s High Museum of Art included Bailey’s works in its exhibition “Equal Rights and Justice: Reflections on Rights,” in 1994. The following year the David Beitzel Gallery in New York City began representing him. He received a major commission in 1996 for a 40-foot-long mural entitled “Saints,” installed in Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport before the Summer Olympic Games held in Atlanta that year. Bailey’s solo museum exhibitions have included “Radcliffe Bailey: The Magic City,” organized by the Birmingham (Alabama) Museum of Art in 2000, which traveled to St. Louis and Houston, “The Prints of Radcliffe Bailey,” at the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, in 2008, and “Radcliffe Bailey: Memory as Medicine,” at Atlanta’s High Museum in 2011, which traveled to Wellesley, Mass. and San Antonio. Bailey has taught at the Lamar Dodd School of Art of the University of Georgia (2001-2006) and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine (2006), and was artist in residence at the Toledo Museum of Art in 2007. His awards include an Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts from the Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Art Fund (1999), a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2008) and the Art Factor Prize from the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, S.C. (2010). His work is in the collections of dozens of American museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington D.C. Since 2002 Bailey has been represented by the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City, which has displayed his work in five exhibitions. He continues to live and work in Atlanta. (TNB 4/2017)