Ross Bleckner (American, b.1949) is a New York-based painter who decided to become an artist after seeing an exhibition called The Responsive Eye at the MoMA in 1965. He went on to study with Sol LeWitt and Chuck Close during his time at New York University, where he received his BA in 1971. He then went on to earn an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 1973.
In 1974, Bleckner moved into a Tribeca loft building in New York City. Three of the floors were rented by painter Julian Schnabel, and, from 1977 to 1983, the building also housed the Mudd Club, a nightclub frequented by musicians and artists. He held his first solo exhibition in 1975 at Cunningham Ward Gallery in New York. In 1979, he began what was to become a long association with Mary Boone Gallery in New York. In 1981, Bleckner met Thomas Ammann of Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, an influential Swiss art dealer who became a major collector of Bleckner's work.
For the last 20 years, his art has been largely an investigation of change, loss, and memory, often addressing the subject of AIDS. Bleckner uses symbolic imagery rather than direct representation, and his work is visually elusive, with forms that constantly change focus. While much of Bleckner's work can be divided into distinct groups or series with motifs repeated from painting to painting, he is also known for combining old motifs. Works by the artist are held in collections around the world, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo, Norway; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Spain; and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, NY.
Bleckner is currently a clinical professor of studio art at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. In May 2009, he was awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations.
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About Ross Bleckner
Ross Bleckner’s immersive, large-scale paintings elicit a powerful hypnotic, dizzying effect. Whether pure abstraction of stripes or dots or more representational renderings of birds, flowers, and urns, Bleckner’s work recalls Op Art and the obsessive and mysterious luminosity of Yayoi Kusama’s Polka-dot paintings. Smoothly layered on the canvas surface against a darker gray background, his multicolored volumetric circles or “cells” look like droplets of blood or molecules viewed under a microscope. Emerging as a prominent artist in New York during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, Bleckner’s paintings, like memento mori, often suggest meditations on the body, health, disease, and especially AIDS-related death.
American, b. 1949, New York, New York, based in New York, New York