Ross Bleckner - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Friday, May 15, 2015 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Mary Boone Gallery, New York
    Vera G. List, New York
    Sotheby's, New York, Contemporary Art Day Sale, November 13, 2003, lot 149
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Mary Boone Gallery, Ross Bleckner, February 7 - 28, 1987
    Ridgefield, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Post-Abstract Abstraction, May 31 - September 6, 1987
    Milwaukee, Milwaukee Art Museum, Currents 14: Ross Bleckner, March 17 - May 21, 1989, then traveled to Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (July 29 - September 24, 1989), Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art (November 11, 1989 - January 14, 1990), Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario (February 9 - April 1, 1990), Saskatoon, Mendel Art Gallery and Museum (April 20 - June 3, 1990)
    Providence, David Winton Bell Gallery, List Art Center, Brown University, Reprise: The Vera G. List Collection, A Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition, October - November 1991

  • Literature

    Ross Bleckner, exh. cat., Mary Boone Gallery, New York, 1987, n.p. (illustrated)
    A. Rankin, "Ross Bleckner", Bomb, April, 1987, p. 27 (illustrated)
    G. Mantegna, "The Ellipse of Reality, Ross Bleckner", Tema Celeste, May, 1987, p. 36 (illustrated)
    P. Steir, "Where the Birds Fly, What the Lines Whisper", ArtForum, May, 1987, p. 109 (illustrated)
    S. Caley, "Ross Bleckner", Flash Art, May, 1987, p. 86 (illustrated)
    S. Morgan, "Strange Days", Artscribe, March, 1988, p. 49 (illustrated)
    C. Smith, "Ross Bleckner", Splash, April, 1988, p. 41 (illustrated)
    M. Rantanen, "Minulle Maalaus Aina Kuvastaa Vastakohtian", Taide, May, 1988, p. 32 (illustrated)
    T. Collins, R. Milaazzo, "Ross Bleckner", Galleries Magazine, October, 1988, p. 120 (illustrated)
    R. Storr, "Ross Bleckner-Crepuscules du Neon", Art Press, December, 1988, p. 41 (illustrated)
    Currents 14: Ross Bleckner, exh. cat., Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, 1989, cat. no. 9, p. 24 (illustrated)
    D. Bacigalupi, "Ross Bleckner", Contemporanea, December, 1989, p. 31 (illustrated)
    Reprise: The Vera G. List Collection, A Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition, exh. cat., David Winton Bell Gallery, Providence, 1991, p. 15 (illustrated)
    D. Wheeler, Art Since Mid-Century: 1945 to the Present, The Vendome Press: New York, 1991, p. 331 (illustrated)
    J. Napack, "The Man Who Wanted to be Loved", New York, February 20, 1995, p. 51 (illustrated)
    Ross Blecker, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1995, p. 29 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted at a pivotal moment in his career, Ross Bleckner’s Cage of 1986 is emblematic of many of the themes and painterly issues with which the artist was grappling at the time. Emblazoned with hauntingly beautiful green, white and blue stripes of varying saturation and density, Cage plays with the materiality of light as both progenitor of and respondent to the visual world as well as its metaphorical connotations of liberation and freedom. The humming birds, scattered throughout the composition, similarly embody this metaphoric gravity trapped as they are above and behind these bands but also within the picture plane – beings constantly in motion yet simultaneously hovering, still and immobile.

    Even as the work clearly elucidates many of the theoretical concerns of paintings being discussed in the mid-1980s, Cage additionally directly tackles the politicization of the arts, and of the artist’s practice, with the ascendant realization of the severity and trauma of the AIDS crisis at the time. No longer seeing fit to paint purely abstract pictures of their own accord, Bleckner realized and began to incorporate a greater consideration of how his practice and his art were affected by and could comment on the most pertinent issue of the day. As such, Cage is the embodiment of this inflection point in Bleckner's career and a seminal work by the artist, recognized by no less a socially aware philanthropist and collector as Vera List, in whose collection this work resided for many years.

  • Artist Biography

    Ross Bleckner

    American • 1949

    Ross Bleckner's large-scale, almost-cosmic abstract paintings came to define a certain aesthetic era in New York in the 1980s and '90s. As much known for his celebrity friendships and Sex and the City references to his long-time relationship with gallerist Mary Boone, Bleckner is somewhat of a star, especially as the youngest artist to receive a solo retrospective at the Guggenheim at the age of 46. 

    His circular dot paintings, which serve as both activism and tribute to the disastrous impact of the AIDS empidemic on New York's gay community, are some of his most buzzed-about and recognizable works still today. However, his heydey was hardly just the '90s—with international gallery exhibitions yearly and a steady, accessible market that has held its value; in 2016, Artnet described Bleckner as an "'80s Art World 'It' Boy Having a New York Moment" when he had six shows running concurrently.

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oil on canvas
108 x 72 in. (274.3 x 182.9 cm)
Signed, titled and dated "Ross Bleckner o/c 1986 'CAGE'" on the reverse.

$60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $149,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Day Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Day Sale 15 May 2015 11am