(American, b.1949) is a New York-based painter who decided to become an artist after seeing an exhibition called The Responsive Eye
at the MoMA in 1965. He went on to study with Sol LeWitt
(American, 1928–2007) and Chuck Close
(American, b.1940) during his time at New York University, where he received his BA in 1971. He then went on to earn an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 1973.
In 1974, Bleckner moved into a Tribeca loft building in New York City. Three of the floors were rented by painter Julian Schnabel
(American, b.1951), and from 1977 to 1983, the building also housed the Mudd Club, a nightclub frequented by musicians and artists. He held his first solo exhibition in 1975 at Cunningham Ward Gallery in New York. In 1979, he began what was to become a long association with Mary Boone Gallery in New York. In 1981, Bleckner met Thomas Ammann of Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG
, an influential Swiss art dealer who became a major collector of Bleckner's work.
For the last 20 years, his art has been largely an investigation of change, loss, and memory, often addressing the subject of AIDS. Bleckner uses symbolic imagery rather than direct representation, and his work is visually elusive, with forms that 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 known for combining old motifs. Works by the artist are held in collections around the world, including the MoMA, New York, NY; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
Bleckner is currently a Clinical Professor of Studio Art at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. In May 2009 he was awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations.