Ross Bleckner (born May 12, 1949) is an American artist. He currently lives and works in New York City. His artistic focus is on painting, and he held his first solo exhibition in 1975. Some of his art work reflected on the AIDS epidemic.
Bleckner was born on May 12, 1949 in Brooklyn, New York. In 1961, Bleckner and his family moved to a more affluent town in Hewlett, New York, where he attended George W. Hewlett High School. In 1965, Bleckner saw his first art exhibition, The Responsive Eye, at the Museum of Modern Art, which went on to have a huge impact on his artwork. Eventually, this was a time when he realized that he wanted to become an artist. Bleckner went on to study at New York University, where he studied alongside Sol LeWitt and Chuck Close. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A) from New York University (1971), and later received his Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A) at California Institute of the Arts (1973).
In 1974, when Bleckner moved back to New York, he moved into a Tribeca loft building. Three of the floors were rented to the painter Julian Schnabel and from 1977 to 1983 the Mudd Club, a nightclub frequented by musicians and artists, was in the same building. In 2004 Bleckner sold the building. He held his first solo exhibition in 1975 at Cunningham Ward Gallery in New York. Then In 1979 he began what was to become a long association with Mary Boone Gallery in New York. In 1981 Bleckner met Thomas Ammann, who was an influential Swiss art dealer who went on to collect Bleckner's work.
Bleckner uses symbolic imagery rather than direct representation, and his work is visually elusive, with forms that are in motion and 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 in the habit of redeploying and combining old motifs. Bleckner doesn’t consider his work to be morbid, he sees it as life, we’re born, we live, we die. Bleckner has posited that a painting is never finished, provided it is still in his studio, because it can always be improved.
In 1995, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum had a major retrospective of his works from the last two decades of exhibitions at acclaimed institutions such as San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and the Carnegie Museum of Art. He was one of the youngest artists to be featured at the Guggenheim.
Works by the artist are held in collections around the world including Museum of Modern Art, New York, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Collezione Maramotti Museum, Reggio, Italy, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Jewish Museum, New York, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.