Brad Spence’s airbrushed cloud of unknowing


In the decade since he graduated from CalArts’ Art and Critical Studies program, L.A.-based artist Brad Spence has produced a half-dozen remarkable bodies of work, beginning with 1998’s “Philosophy Minor,” a striking series of skillfully airbrushed paintings on paper that — on further investigation — turned out to be appropriations of vintage mass-market paperback philosophy books with the text removed. The resulting pictures — ranging from midcentury Modernist abstract designs to a photo-realist bust of Socrates — were among the most enigmatic and refreshing visual statements to emerge from the sticky swamp of passive-aggressive eye candy that was L.A. painting in the ’90s.

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