new-york

Ronald Bladen

Washburn Gallery

This exhibition of forgotten paintings by a well-known but marginalized sculptor reminds us that history is capricious, that it is a complex dynamic rather than a series of static events. None of the convenient art-historical models used to designate artists or oeuvres accommodate Ronald Bladen’s five-decade career very precisely. Bladen’s subtle refusal to work in a mainstream style raises a number of important questions about the way the art world admits artists into the canon. Is, for example, the course of mainstream art the result of each generation connecting itself to official history via a critically sanctioned style?

Bladen’s career can be divided into at least two phases. In his second phase—the one for which he is best known—Bladen worked as a sculptor. From the mid ’60s until the late ’70s, his sharply angled, planar sculptures lurched and extended like dancers, in a witty and

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