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Ross Bleckner (American, b.1949)


Birth Place: New York, NY United States


Ross Bleckner (May 12, 1949) is a contemporary American artist who is best known for his paintings on loss, memory, and the AIDS epidemic. He often focuses on the sublime “... What I really want to do in my life is bring something new, something beautiful, and something filled with light into the world.”

While born in New York City in 1949 to an affluent family, Bleckner and his family would soon move to Hewlett, New York, an affluent suburb outside the city. An artist from an early age, Bleckner was changed by an early experience at the MoMA, when he saw a William Seitz exhibition called The Responsive Eye in 1965. Bleckner received his BFA from NYU alongside other luminaries like Sol Lewitt and Chuck Close and quickly followed this with an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.

He moved back to New York in the mid-seventies where he lived in a building with fellow painter Julian Schnabel. During this time he had his first solo exhibition at the Cunningham Ward Gallery and followed this with multiple showings at the Mary Boone Gallery. This would prove to become a long-time association over the course of Bleckner’s career. 

In the 1980s Bleckner’s work found his audience. He experimented with contemporary realism, turning his large-scale abstractions on their head when he focused on cell shapes and droplets of blood. These paintings offered a sort of memento mori, meditations on the frailty of the body and fellow artists who had fallen during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Perhaps the most famous of these is Small Count (1980), with just a few white dot patterns on an otherwise dark canvas. 

Bleckner continued this work throughout the 1990s. 8,122+ As of January 1986 (1994) and Throbbing Heart (1994) were evocative, brilliant and simple. These successes led to a major career retrospective at the Guggenheim in 1995 -- at the time one of the youngest artists to ever be featured there. His work has also been exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and the Carnegie Museum of Art. 

Bleckner channeled much of his new-found celebrity and wealth into his philanthropy. He is on the board of ACRIA, a non-profit AIDS research clinic. For this work he was awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations, the first artist to ever receive that position. Currently, Bleckner teaches at NYU’s Steinhardt School as a clinical professor of studio art. Always evocative and darkly beautiful, whether in a gallery or a private collection, a Bleckner piece is instantly recognizable. 

Ross Bleckner Frequently Asked Questions:

How much are Ross Bleckner paintings worth?

A Bleckner painting can fetch $500- $700 USD for a simple flower study, all the way to the tens of thousands for a large-scale painting.

What are the most famous paintings of Ross Bleckner?

Throbbing Heart (1994), Small Count (1980), and Architecture of the Sky (1990) are all good examples of Ross Bleckner’s work.

What is the value of Ross Bleckner’s paintings? 

Recently Ross Bleckner’s paintings have gone between $5000 and $7000 USD. Some of the more well-known works can be valued at double or even triple this price. 

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