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Ross Bleckner


(b. 12 May 1949, New York, New York) American painter. Ross Bleckner grew up in Hewlett Harbor, Long Island as a middle child between two sisters. His father manufactured car parts. Bleckner decided to become an artist while attending college; studying under the direction of famed artists Chuck Close and Sol LeWitt, Bleckner received his BA from NYU in 1971. He then completed an MFA at the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia in 1973 and moved back to New York shortly after. In 1979, Bleckner was one of the first artists to join the Mary Boone Gallery, New York. Though art critics did not favor his first series of Stripe paintings during the early 1980’s, Bleckner attracted favorable attention in 1984 when a single work was exhibited at the Nature Morte Gallery in the East Village. At the time of this success, Bleckner was responding to the AIDS crisis; using his art for the purpose of memorializing those who had suffered and died from the disease. For example, one work entitled "8,122+ as of January 1986" (1986) documented the exact number of AIDS-related deaths at the time of its completion. Bleckner had his first solo exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1988. His series of works after this time included Constellation paintings (1987-93), featuring abstract suggestions of the night sky, and Architecture of the Sky paintings (1988-93), reminiscent of domed interiors. In later years, Bleckner focused on painting the human body at a microscopic level, showcasing diseased cells and DNA irregularities most likely in response to the loss of his father, who battled cancer. In 1995, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum exhibited a mid-career retrospective of Bleckner’s work. Between 1995 and 2003, Bleckner completed a series of bird paintings, and also experimented with airbrush painting. Dealing with subjects of loss, transcendence and remembrance, Bleckner continues to weave both mind and soul onto his canvases, impacting the art world in a sincerely personal, heartfelt way. He currently lives and works in New York.

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