Ross Bleckener (1949, New York) is an influential contemporary American artist. Perhaps best known for his paintings dealing with loss and memory, Bleckner notably tackled the emotional toll brought by the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. He studied in New York University alongside the artists Sol Lewitt and Chuck Close, and then at the California Institute of the Arts where he received his MFA in 1973.
His poetic works often employ recurring symbolic imagery, such as candelabras, doves, and flowers, rendered with a blurred, glowing sense of light. 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.
Bleckener was the subject of a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1995. His work can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, among others.
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