The art of Robert R Bliss, 1925–1981


Standing boy pulling ropes (1962).

The chiaroscuro above looks like a photo print but is actually a painting. I’ve seen Bliss’s name mentioned a few times before but he remains rather difficult to track down online, most of the visible works being on auction sites. What there is consists mostly of young men in swim suits, to a degree which seems like an idée fixe given the lack of nudes or variation in the poses.


left: Standing boy with red trunks (1961); right: Boy with oar (no date).

In a career outline on the Leslie-Lohman site there’s this curious paragraph:

Bliss…after 20 years of alcoholism, discovered LSD. After that he completely stopped drinking. His work then completely shifted to colorful landscapes as well as psychedelic visionary paintings.

I’ve not been able to find any of this psychedelic work at all. If anyone knows of any, please leave a comment.

Update: Added a few more examples of his male studies.


Seated Boy (1950).


Swinging Boy (1959).


Yellow Shirt (1963).


Kneeling Male Athlete (1964).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

44 thoughts on “The art of Robert R Bliss, 1925–1981”

  1. I own one of Bliss’s psychedelic-inspired landscapes, as well as another colorful but non-visionary landscape & I saw much of his visionary work during the late 70’s around Boston – it definitely does exist!

  2. Hi,

    I’m Mark Potter and I saw your site and information about Robert Bliss – which is great!

    I’m a Bliss collector and I have assembled the largest collection of his works known at over 500 paintings. At the above link, the large painting and small painting on the right are mine while my close friend owns the other.

    I am writing a book on Robert Bliss and also putting the collection together for a museum dedicated to figurative works. Do you have any Blisses? If so, is it possible to see images of what you have?

    Would you be interested in selling them or do you know of someone who might?

    In any event, I would be interested in anything you have as it would be great to share information, etc.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Many Thanks,

  3. Hi Mark Potter, et. al.:

    I have a Bliss nude. I may be interested in selling this piece. If anyone is interested, please leave a comment . . .

    All the very best,

  4. Hi John:

    Thanks a million for passing on my message to Mark. I do appreciate it. If you can access my email address, feel free to pass it on to Mark in case he wishes to contact me.

    If I can be of assistance to you–feel free to ask.



  5. I have three paintings by Bliss. One is “carousel”, or that’s what I call it. It was exhibited here in DC and appeared with Bliss standing next to it in the Washington Post. Another is of an athlete, and then one with an athlete in swim trunks laying on the ground or beach.

    Ron Koshes

  6. I was a good friend of Bob Bliss. I was there when his art changed.
    I lived in his house for 2 summers. His house was a work of art.
    His drinking stopped the day I introduced him to pot. He quit cigarettes at the same time. (LSD came a bit later).
    If you ever see any of his early landscapes, They look like Andrew Wyeth’s. That’s because they were friends. I believe they went to art school togeather.
    Bob Bliss was an unforgetable person. I miss him.
    Im thinking about writting a blog about his life. He told me many many stories of his life.
    I met Malcolm Forbes at his house. Forbes was a large collector.
    I use to visit Bob’s mother after he died. She had out lived everyone in her familly. I worked in Newton, Ma. where she lived.
    I took her on errands after she couldn’t drive. Her house was full of Bliss paintings from his early years. I wish I had a few of them.

  7. I have built a website for Bob Bliss.
    I’m looking for images of his work.
    I had hundreds of slides Bob gave me of his early paintings but they were stolen.
    I found a few images here and on Google. I would like to post some of his later stuff.
    Thank you.

  8. Mark,

    I have two boy paintings available to sell if you’re interested.

    1. boy on beach 1969, 66″w x 28′ h

    2. boy suspended from trapeze bar holding rope from below, 1960, 26″ w x 51″h (painted in gold monotones)

    Feel free to call me at 508-746-4106


  9. Hi Dana,
    I’ve just found your answer to my question about anyone selling Robert Bliss Paintings!!!!
    I had two operations and somehow lost this link. My email is:

    Please email me images of your paintings as I would love to see them. I will call you on Friday.
    Many thanks,
    Mark Potter

  10. Hi Everyone,

    I’m Mark Potter and I saw your site and information about Robert Bliss several months ago and then my computer crashed and I lost the link which was then followed by 2 operations!

    Anyways, this is what I am working on – Robert Bliss related:

    I’m an avid Bliss collector and I have assembled the largest collection of his works known at over 500 paintings. At the above link, the large painting and small painting on the right are mine while my close friend owns the other. I’m not trying to be the only collector of Bliss as I encourage others to do so who are interested in his works.

    I am interested in purchasing works that others may not want for whatever reason. Robert Bliss experimented with glazes, etc. and some of his works are susceptible to microbial contamination and may need stabilization. I plan to dedicate a section to this in the upcoming Bliss art book I’m currently working on.

    I also plan on putting my collection together for permanent exhibition at museum dedicated to figurative works in the near future.

    If anyone has any Bliss images to sell or just share for possible inclusion in the book, please email them to:

    If any of you would you be interested in selling any Bliss are or my know someone who might, please have them email me at the address above.

    In any event, I would be interested in anything you have as it would be great to share information, etc.

    Many thanks!

  11. Hi Ron,

    Thank you so very much for answering my post.
    I am just getting your message as it was lost along with the link when my computer crashed months ago. I am just now seeing it!

    Please contact me about your Blisses. I look forward to hearing from you! Hopefully I will get it this time!
    Many thanks!

  12. Dear Jerry,

    The book will be available for sale probably in about a year. Please keep an eye out for it as I promise it will be loaded with many images of his works along with some pretty cool stories…

    Thanks for your interest!

  13. the painting you have at the top used to belong to my mother in-law… which was given to her by bob… bob was a close family friend and had given many paintings to her. unfortunately when she died the family could not come to an agreement and sold them at auction. this was about 8 years ago. by many paintings I mean in the neighborhood of 20. I ended up with just one…. done in his psychedelic era it is a lion head floating in a cloud…. one painting I remember vividly was my ex wifes painting bob did just for her. it was a fir tree a top a hill all alone…. two others that sold were of a guy I went to school with done at worlds end in Hingham… in one my friend is sitting on a branch of a tree the other is of him walking down a path with a brown leather jacket on. there were also many done in the era of boys in bathing suits…. I would say that mark potter probably ended up with some of these.

  14. Dear Steve,
    Thanks for the information on the paintings!!!! I would really enjoy talking to you about the paintings you spoke of as I have the one at the top, your friend sitting in the tree and the one walking down the path – which all are amazing! It would be so helpful to get a little more information so I could include it in the book on Bliss if you don’t mind.
    Could you email me at:

    I really hope to hear from you!
    All the best and Happy New Years!!!

  15. Dear Steve Richmond,

    I have the painting of your friend sitting in the tree. Would it be ok for you tell me his name as I would love to include a story in an envelop attached to the back of the painting with your Moms name your friends name and the story.
    Wouldn’t that be cool for furure owners fo this painting to read in the future?
    My email address is:

    Many thanks!

  16. Dear Steve,
    I forgot to ask. Do you think your friend would like a copy of the painting he is in emailed to him?
    I’d bew more than glad to.

  17. Hi, I’m looking for some photos of Bob Bliss later year paintings for the website
    We have some of the boys and scenes, and welcome more but he did quit a few in his psychedelix years. I was a close friend and saw every one he did, I would love to see them again and show them on the website.

  18. jim…. we must have met at some point at bob’s…. my ex wife and I spent a lot of time at bob’s. did you by any chance have a large beard? can’t remember the name , but remember meeting a friend of bob’s at a show and the house but for the life of me(and a few missing brain cells) can’t remember the name. I have one semi psychedelic painting of his…. will try and take a photo and send it.

  19. mark…. I have not forgotten or ignored your correspondence…. will get back to you with info from those paintings….

  20. Steve, yes I had a beard but a couple of other friends had beards also.
    I also spent a lot of time at Bobs, I lived with him 2 summers.
    It was a cool place to be. Wasn’t it?
    Go to and send me an email if you like.

  21. Hello,. I own a work of Robert Bliss,. which name is “Back & Head of an Athlete” around 1963., any information about this painting…
    Thank you

  22. hi I knew bob from around 1967, up to his death in 1981 , I am in many of his paintings and I was helpful to bob in a time he was struggling with alcohol , neighborhood kids where taking advantage of his generosity and there had to be changes in his life fast, and with the help of the good friends that I introduced into bobs life we rid him of that element. I remember the most critical time was when I went to visit bob in those early years, and he was outright stoned drunk , and had been for days, and was passed out on the floor no money no food he told me he felt it was over and he did not want to go on, , my mom sent me down with food daily and we kept an eye on him , he recovered and he soon met my entire family ,my grandmother and uncle bought paintings to get him going again and with my parents permission I modeled for him , as he did ask ! he found marijuana as a way out of the alcholic trap he was in, he first starting picking herbs out on the islands in the harbor and smoked them and his curiosity grew about pot, we both took mesculine for the first time together, it was both of our first time tripping.

  23. Cynthia…. how are you? It has been a long time…. Michaela, (Michelle B.), has moved out to Arizona …. The paintings her family had including the ones with you were sold at auction a few years ago and are the ones in previous posts above. I wished I could have afforded to buy them at the time. No one in her family could agree to a way to split them up and one in the family just wanted the money and didn’t care about the paintings. Again, it is good to hear from you. Get in touch if you want…. would be good to hear what you have been up to. I know there have been a lot of changes, and I think that it is great, especially if things are better.

  24. Hi Cynthia Ferguson,

    I’m Mark Potter and I am collecting many of Bob’s works. I have several hundred, so I must have some of you in them.

    I absolutely loved your story! Would it be possible to either email each other or I can call you to talk about what you said in your note as I would like to figure out the year that was so I can study the change he made in his style?

    My direct email is:
    I would love to hear from you!

    Thanks again for the wonderful story!
    All the best!

  25. mark! sent you an email, I myself have no paintings, there are a few around the family, scenic, one I thought was one of his finest examples of his scenic work not pyscedelic just a beauty, but it has dissappeared, I believe it was given to someone. I will try to find out.

  26. mark I would love to get a painting myself someday, there is one where a boy is on a ladder in an old dirty building with a big peace sign, thats me , it was out at outer brewster island, in the old bunkers , a place we visited often I would love to have it someday if I ever get the chance, that one has a lot of memories to it

  27. In responce to Cynthia Ferguson’s post:
    I remember going to Bobs house and he was passed out drunk.
    The kids there were pouring wine over his body and stealing from him. That’s the day I moved in with him and stayed the entire summer. Getting him to smoke pot was the best thing. He never drank again. His house unique, inside and out.
    Many times strangers would knock on his door and ask to see the house.
    I was at his house when Malcom Forbes came to buy paintings. He paid what ever Bob asked for. He tried to get Malcom Forbes to smoke pot but he wouldn’t.
    So many stories pop into my head.
    Thank you Cynthia for introducing me to him.

  28. jim those damn kids it was good we got down in there before something bad happened,, I remember a couple of them hanging on his porch planning bad things , , the day I found him I took his keys and locked the house so I could get in and get him sober .and my mom made lots of things for him to eat I remember when that was going on , alcohol and bob was a bad mix if he kept it up he never would have done the work he had come to create, I do remember bringing you there you came with jack condon al richardson paul gallagher and hastings, bob had good friends now and good protection, those village kids where no good ,

  29. Cynthia, I was there long before Jack and those guys. It was when I started dating your sister. We probibly shouldn’t use this site as a message board. We’ll continue through email.

  30. jim you are right it was my sister cheryl, who brought gallagher and hasting in, she was dating hastings,

  31. I can’t think why I waited so long to research Bob… but here I am. I didn’t know him well… had dinner there a few times… enjoyed a unique, ah, relationship with him… and have a dozen or more of his “psychedelics”, and access to more. Are any for sale? I dunno… is any gallery handling them? Guess I should at least take pics.

    clarkjohnsen at

  32. I have a Bliss painting it is called “Rising Figure” great painting. the tag says the Marble Arch Gallery, Americana Hotel. 25 1’2 x 33.

  33. Dear Tina,
    It was good to see your note on your Bliss painting. I would be most interested in seeing your painting “Rising FIgure” and I maybe I might be able to tell you something more about it if you have an image or can take and email one to the address above or below.

    I am currently putting a Bliss Book together and I would LOVE to see your painting! Would you be most kind to email me an image to:
    for me to take a look? I have several hundred paintings of his to compare an image of your painting to and I should be able to tell you more about it…

    I thank you for your time.
    All the Best,

  34. I have several Bliss paintings that I might consider selling. Some I will never part with however…they are promised to my sons. If interested I can be reached at Bob Hastings and Paul Gallagher are you out there?

  35. My father has a couple of the psychedelic landscape paintings, those with a bubble in them, oil on canvas and a third of clouds and sky. Circa 1975. They are approx 4ft by 2 1/2ft. He is interested in selling these paintings. If anyone is interested please contact me so that we may correspond via e-mail. I can be reached at

Comments are closed.