Ronald Bladen (1918- 1988) was a Minimalist best known for his large-scale sculptures. He is often credited with influencing fellow Minimalists Carl Andre, Donald Judd, and Sol LeWitt.
In 1939 he moved to San Francisco form Vancouver, Canada where he enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts. He spent the war years working as a ship’s welder at the navy dockyards. In 1955 he joined a communal household with poet Michael McClure and Al Held. During this time he also befriended the writers Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, and Allen Ginsberg and became close friends with the dancer Yvonne Rainer.
In 1956, Bladen relocated to New York where he lived on Houston Street. He met fellow artists George Sugarman and Nicholas and John Krushenick, who together founded the Brata Gallery co-operative in 1957. His paintings from this period are defined by highly concentrated segments of color set against monochromatic backgrounds. 1962, he exhibited his plywood paintings for the first time at the Brata Gallery and the Green Gallery.
In 1964, he showed his first large scale sculpture, White Z, at an exhibition in the Park Place Gallery in New York. This same year he was awarded the National Medal of the Arts by the National Endowment of the Arts. In 1966, he showed his sculpture, Three Elements, in the exhibition, Primary Structures, at the Jewish Museum in New York alongside younger artists including Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Walter De Maria, and Robert Morris. A seminal moment in the history of sculpture, this exhibition brought the language of Minimalism into the public eye. In 1967 he was included in the Scale as Content exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. Sculptures by Ronald Bladen have been featured in exhibitions at important public institutions including at the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, , Documenta 4, Kassel, Germany, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., The Jewish Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York Vancouver Art Museum, Vancouver, BC, The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York among others.