Ronald Bladen (1918 – 1988) was a world-wide known Canadian artist and acknowledged pioneer of minimalism. Bladen was awarded twice the National Medal of Arts by the National Endowment of the Arts and got the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. From 1974 to 1976, Bladen taught as a guest lecturer at Columbia University in New York and was awarded the Mark Rothko Fellowship.
Video copyright – Loretta Howard Gallery
Starting his carrier as a painter in 1937 at the Vancouver School of Art, Bladen had his first solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1946. In 1956, Bladen moved to New York and there he was represented with his austere sculptures, developed from geometric forms, at many famous exhibitions. His artistry had a stimulating effect on a circle of younger artists including Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt and Lawrence Weiner, who repeatedly called him the ‘father figure’ of Minimal Art. In 1964 Bladen showed his first sculpture, White Z, at an exhibition in the Park Place Gallery in New York. He also presented his “Three Elements” at the exhibition “Primary Structures Younger American and British Artists”, which was very important for Minimal Art because it enabled a broader public to become acquainted with this new art movement for the first time. Since 1970’s Bladen was mostly occupied with commissions but also worked as a teacher and lecturer from time to time at Yale University and others.
Bladen’s contribution to Minimal Art is obvious. His affection in monumental scale and simple form was less a product of conceptual reductionism, it revealed his interest in inspiring tensity.