Rising to prominence in the raw New York art scene of the mid-1970s and 1980s, American painter Ross Bleckner conjures ethereal reflections of life, loss, and transience. Many of his early works emerged in response to the AIDS epidemic, abstractions that may be read as referencing cellular and bodily structures – works which earned Bleckner his place as the youngest artist to be honored with a mid-career retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum. And even as Bleckner is recognized for his adeptness at capturing a particular moment of collective grief, his works also catalyze experiences of awe, emergence, and even joy. From wholly abstract to semi-representational, the works of Alchemy & Joy showcase Bleckner’s uncanny ability to synthesize life’s contradictions and to cast a warm light upon the inarticulable.

It is important that painting connect to ideas, and ultimately these ideas can affect people. There is something in my work that touches feelings and ideas that have been latent.

Ross Bleckner

Paintings Available for Purchase

“Bring something new, something beautiful and something filled with light into the world.”

Ross Bleckner

Prints Available for Purchase

Ross Bleckner (American, b. 1949)

Ross Bleckner was born in 1949 in New York and grew up on Long Island. Bleckner attended New York University, studying under artists such as Sol LeWitt and Chuck Close and graduated in 1971. He went on to study at the California Institute of the Arts, earning an MFA in 1973. Upon moving back to New York in 1974, he purchased a building in Tribeca, where he lived and worked, and also rented three floors to the artist Julian Schnabel and the ground floor to the famed Mudd Club, a gathering place for the musicians and artists of the downtown scene. In 1979, after several well-received shows of his early abstracted geometric paintings, he began being represented by Mary Boone Gallery, home to many of the New York City “art stars” of the coming decade.

Bleckner began creating the work he is most known for in the mid-1980s, partly as a response to the AIDS crisis. A departure from his earlier nonrepresentational works, these large paintings depict urns, ornamental gates, chandeliers, flowers and fruit, floating, in a radiant glow, against dark backgrounds. These works are rooted in a sense of loss, dislocation and sentiment but also employ his earlier explorations of linear geometry, rendering the hard-edged lines of Op Art decorative and expressive. Bleckner calls the light in these paintings “light from history,” citing Romantics such as William Blake and J.M.W. Turner among his inspirations. 

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