Ross Bleckner's book, Examined Life: Writings 1972-2007, edited with an introduction by Richard Milazzo, collects for the first time all of the very few and rare texts the artist has published over the course of nearly four decades. These include the now seminal essay, “Transcendent Anti-Fetishism,” from Artforum in 1979, catalogue statements, several journal entries, and excerpts from interviews. There are essays on Vito Acconci, Philip Taaffe, David Deutsch and Moira Dryer. The book also includes the previously unpublished lecture, “On Spirituality,” he delivered at the Dresden Conference, Strategies for the Future of Culture, in October 2005.
In almost every instance, Bleckner’s texts speak synonymously and sensually of the elusive but relentless psychological objects of desire — namely those painting and love — and the strange and moving way in which this condition has become for the artist the very object of painting. “Painting and love,” he writes, are “the single things in my life that construct and reconstruct purpose. I remember when I was twenty, I laid on the grass across from these paintings and thought I had found love. I was overwhelmed to have found a way to be in this world, their world. In these paintings I felt something that could be made and called real, even if in them was the representation of the unattainable. All this time, these centuries, have been the continual attempt to organize, to oppress, and to regiment the messy forces of inner life. In this place, for one moment, the two things that I want most in this world join within.”