Studio Visit With Artist Ross Bleckner
BY CHRISTINA FLOYD
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERIC CAHAN
Ross Bleckner at work in his studio
Myriad local artists claim it is the natural light that attracted them to the East End, but for longtime local Ross Bleckner, the matter is not as clear-cut. “I like the north light,” he says, “but all of that talk about Hamptons light, I don’t think it really has that much of an effect on me. As a matter of fact, I don’t get it. For me, there’s beautiful light wherever you are; it’s all in your head.”
Bleckner has been living and working in the Hamptons since 1987, and in this particular Sagaponack studio, once owned by writer Truman Capote, since the early ’90s. He just renovated the space last year and is currently working on his adjoining home. Inside, the studio is a meticulously organized library, filled with everything from exhibition catalogues of his own work to volumes and pieces by other artists who inspire him, like Sally Gall, Jack Pierson and Adam Fuss. His materials, from paints and brushes to knives and pencils, are all incredibly organized in their own spaces. The only objects ever out of place are four wire-haired dachshunds—Franklin, Winston, Truman and Ratsy—who bound around the studio, four constant critics.
The meticulous habits seem to be working for Bleckner, a longtime veteran of the New York contemporary-art scene. The methodology even finds its way into his work, currently on display at Manhattan’s Mary Boone Gallery (745 Fifth Ave., NYC) and Lehmann Maupin gallery (540 W. 26th St., NYC). To create one of his large-scale paintings, first Bleckner takes a photograph, then enlarges the print and paints that section. He then photographs the finished painting, enlarges it and starts another painting. “It is sort of like cancer cells multiplying,” he jokes. “I think of them as mutations, like one thing forms the other somewhere inside of it.”
Most recently, Bleckner worked with fellow local photographers Renate Aller and Mary Ellen Bartley as part of the "Artists Choose Artists" exhibit at the Parrish Art Museum, on display through October 9. “I liked them because one photographer was inside and one photographer was outside,” he says. Bleckner is also working on a print for the 70th birthday benefit for The Watermill Center’s Robert Wilson.