Minimal art Ronald Bladen

Ronald Bladen (1918- 1988) was an American painter and sculptor. He is particularly known for his large-scale sculptures. His artistic stance, was influenced by European Constructivism, American Hard-Edge Painting, and sculptors such as Isamu Noguchi and David Smith. Bladen in turn had stimulating effect on a circle of younger artists including Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt and others, who repeatedly referred to him as one of the ‘father figures’ of Minimal Art.
Charles Ronald Wells Bladen was born on July 13, 1918, to Muriel Beatrice Tylecote and Kenneth Bladen, both British immigrants living in Vancouver, Canada.[4] His mother studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and was active as part of the suffragette movement. In 1922 the family moved to the Washington state before returning to Canada to live in Victoria British Columbia in 1932.The artist displayed his love of and capacity for art at a young age. At ten years old Bladen began drawing intensively, making copies of works by Titian, Picasso and Matisse. In 1937 the artist enrolled in the Vancouver School of Art where he studied until 1939.Wikipedia

"In 1946, Bladen had his first solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. At the same time he was awarded a scholarship by the San Francisco art Association whish enabled him to undertake an eight week journey to Tijuana in Mexico and New Orleans form June to August, as well as a stay of several months in New York until March 1947. There, in Peggy Guggenheim’s Gallery, he saw an exhibition with works by Jackson Pollock.
With in the Libertarian Circle, together with James Harmon, Philip Lamantia, Thomas Parkinson, Kenneth Rexroth, Sanders Russell and Robert Stock, he founded the literary journal, The Ark, in 1947. Bladen designed the cover and made contributions in the form of drawings and linocuts.In 1948, he met the actress Barbara Gross, whom he married a year later. Their son, Bran, born 1951,died shortly after of a kidney failure. The couple moved to San Carlos in California, buying a house on Winding Bay where Bladen set up a studio.In 1951, Ronald Bladen was naturalized as a US citizen.
In 1955, he separated from his wife, Barbara Gross. Through his friend, Kenneth Rexroth, he got to know the poet, Michael McClure, at the end of the summer and moved back to San Francisco into McClure’s communal household with Joanna MsClure, James and Beverly Harmon, Price Dunn and Larry Jordan. At this time a friendship arose with the writers, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller, as well as the painter, Al Held, who advised him to move to New York.

In 1956, Bladen moved to New York where he lived on Houston Street. Through Al Held he got to know painters, George Sugarman and Nicholas and John Krushenick, who together founded the Brata Gallery co-operative in 1957.
Bladen continued to be active mainly as a painter. He made paintings in the style of Abstract Expressionism in which intensively colored patches of organic formations are integrated into almost landscape-like surface forms, similar in color.
In 1960, he took over Al Held studio a 5 west 21st Street, progressively restricted his painterly activity, and began to occupy himself with collages made of folded paper and the first painted reliefs of plywood. As in previous years, to earn his living, he worked as a toolmaker.In 1962, he exhibited his painted plywood reliefs for the first time at the Brata Gallery and the Green Gallery in New York. The following year he made his first free-standing, colored sculptures from plywood boards with metal struts. From this time on the Bladen dedicated himself exclusively to sculpture.
In 1964, he showed his first sculpture, White Z, at an exhibition in the Park Place Gallery in New York and got to know the sculptures, Connie Reyes, who later became his companion. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts by the National Endowment of the Arts. The first works include also Rambler, 1963/1964, and the Rockers, 1965, which Bladen understood as the artistic basis for all his further sculptures.

From 1956 on, Bladen enjoyed the growing attention of the New York art scene and beyond, so that subsequently he was represented with his austere sculptures, developed from geometric forms, at many famous exhibitions. His artistic stance, influenced by European Constructivism, American Hard-Edge Painting, and sculptures such as Isamu Noguchi and David Smith, in turn had stimulating effect on a circle of younger artists including Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt and Lawrence Weiner, who repeatedly called him the ‘father figure’ of Minimal Art.In 1966, he showed a tripartite work made the precious year, Three Elements, at the exhibition, Primary Structures Younger American and British Artists, in the Jewish Museum in New York. This exhibition was very important for Minimal Art because it enabled a broader public to become acquainted with this new art movement for the first time. Together with other artists represented there, such as Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol Le Witt, Walter De Maria, Robert Morris, Tony Smith and Robert Smithson, since then Bladen has been assigned to this group working with an elementary frugality of forms, even though his conception, aiming at whole and the expressive power of the individual work, is distinguished from the serial and consistently matter-of-fact manner of artistic shaping and forming pursued by most of the other artists. This holds in a similar way for his sculptor- friends, Robert Grosvenor.

At the beginning of the 1960s interest was growing in the United States in sculptures in public spaces. This turns toward ‘landmark signs’ and the clear, strongly expressive tectonics of Bladen’s works led him to receiving numerous commissions from 1967 on. Thus The Cathedral Evening came about in 1969 for the Albany (New York), Vroom Sh-Sh-Sh in 1974 for Buffalo (new York), and Raiko I in 1975 for Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf.Since the mid-1960’s, Bladen’s works were represented by the Fischback Gallery in New York, Through its gallery director, Aladar Marberer, in 1973, he got to know the younger artist Bill Jenson, with whom he had a close friendship from then on. From 1974 to 1976, Bladen taught ass a guest lecturer at Columbia

In 1976, Bladen was appointed teacher at the Parsons School of Fine Art, a post he held until 1978. An exchange with students gained generally in importance for him. He therefore accepted further teaching jobs, such as Artist in Residence in 1981/1982 at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (Maine), and in 1982.1983 as a guest lecturer at Yale University in New Haven (Connecticut). In 1977, he was once again awarded the National Endowment of the Arts.
Bladen was mostly occupied with commissions which, since the 1970s, were often accompanied by preparatory models. Thus, in 1976, he created Cosmic Seed for Des Moines (Iowa), 1977, he created Kama Sutra for Central Park in New York, 1978 Oracle’s Vision for Springfield (Ohio), Black Lightning 1981 for Seattle and the campus of King Faisal University in Riyadh as well as Host of the Ellipse for Baltimore (Maryland). From 1985 on, the sculptor, Larry Deyab, assisted him in his work.
At the beginning of 1988, as recognition for his services to the summer academy in Skowhegan, Bladen was awarded the Skowhegan Trustees & Governor Award for Service to the Arts.(

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