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Mon, 11.25.1968

Radcliffe Bailey, Mixed-Media Artist born

Radcliffe Bailey

*Radcliffe Bailey was born on this date in 1968. He was a Black contemporary visual artist noted for mixed-media, painting, and sculpture works.

Radcliffe Bailey was born in Bridgeton, New Jersey. At age four, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia. His interest in Art began with childhood visits to the High Museum of Art and drawing classes Bailey later took at the Atlanta College of Art. He cited Atlanta's history with civil rights and the Civil War as artistic inspirations. Bailey received a Bachelor of Fine Arts 1991 from the Atlanta College of Art.

From 2001 to 2006, he taught Art at the University of Georgia. Bailey was trained as a sculptor but experimented with paint and mixed media. He worked within the convergence of painting and sculpture, utilizing vintage photographs of his family, vinyl records, piano keys, and bottlecaps. Thematically, his Art explores the intersection of ancestry, race, and cultural memory.

In 2003, he adopted a style of Art conceptually inspired by Kongo minkisi, which he described as "medicine cabinet sculptures." As a result, his work has been three-dimensional and layered, incorporating elements of smell and sound. In a 2013 interview, Bailey described his creative process and fascination with the connection between past and present, stating: "The day-by-day experience of Art, even though my work may seem to have this layer of history, it is also a cover for what I'm dealing with on a day to day. It's very much about today. We talked about where I go next: I'm still thinking about today and yesterday and what's coming before me tomorrow."  

Historic figures largely inspired him, citing individuals such as George Washington Carver and Charleston-based blacksmith Philip Simmons as sources of inspiration. His large-scale installation, Windward Coast (2009–2011), was presented as part of the First International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Cartagena de Indias in Colombia.

He was recognized for his artistic contributions, receiving the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 2008 and the Elizabeth and Mallory Factory Prize for Southern Art in 2010. On June 27, 2009, Bailey married American actress, dancer, and producer Victoria Rowell. The couple divorced in 2014. He later married Leslie Campbell Parks, daughter of photographer Gordon Parks. Bailey had two children, a son and a daughter. Radcliffe Bailey died on November 14, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia, after battling brain cancer. He was 54.

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