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Anna C. Bliss

Anna Campbell Bliss was born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1925. She is a nonrepresentational artist whose work is known for the fusion of color and geometry. Anna Campbell Bliss is also very interested in color perception.

She earned a BA in art history from Wellesley College and an MA in architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. She continued studies in color and light at MIT and computer studies at the University of Utah. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah where she and her husband, Robert Bliss, are partners in an architecture and design firm in Salt Lake City.

In her artwork, she juxtaposes complementary colors to create optical vibrations. By limiting her designs to simple geometric shapes, she keeps the focus on the color effects. Although she is primarily known for her purist color work, her computer programs allow her to create large architectural works.  Fractalscape (1990) exemplifies her work with computer programs.

Biographical information on this page was adapted from the Springville Museum of Art.

Anna Campbell Bliss was born July 10, 1925, in Morristown, New Jersey. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College in Art History and a Master of Architecture from Harvard's Graduate School of Design. She studied color theory and design with Gyorgy Kepes at M.I.T. and with Josef Albers. In addition, she studied painting and printmaking with Cameron Booth, Malcom Meyers and other Minnesota artists. After graduate school, Bliss studied and traveled in Europe, Mexico, South America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Orient.

Anna and her husband, Robert L. Bliss, have an architecture and design company. In addition to her work in these two fields, she became interested in color perception and now is an authority who lectures widely on the subject. She served as the guest editor for Design Quarterly and has written articles for professional journals. She is an artist, architect, and nationally recognized consultant on color and design.

In her artwork, Bliss explores the area between art and architecture in a variety of media. She expresses her philosophy in a quote from the Gallery Notes to Extended Vision, a Salt Lake City Arts Council exhibit of her work.

She states, “Art is a way of exploring the visual world, of mining personal resources, of creating one's own reality. Boundaries are artificial. Often the most exciting ideas emerge at the intersection where more than one discipline meet.“

Bliss' art is a “fusion of color and geometry“ in which she manipulates the sensory aspects of color, juxtaposing complementary colors to create optical vibrations. By limiting her designs to simple geometric shapes, she keeps the focus on the color effects. Her design and architecture background probably influenced her choice of shapes–often concentric triangles and squares in modular series–as well as the large size of her artworks.

Although most artists either use color as a vehicle for communicating emotional sensations or exploit color for its physical properties, Bliss melds these two approaches. “I would like my work to be satisfying on more than one level of consciousness,“ says Bliss “[in order] to make a contribution to our understanding of color as well as to provide stimulation and enjoyment.“ Bliss' aim is to prompt a unique color experience in each individual.

Most recently, Bliss has explored the use of computers, and her shapes have become more organic, possibly as a result of the computer's unique abilities. In Fractalscape, Bliss has manipulated fractals, geometric patterns that are repeated on ever smaller scales to produce irregular shapes and surfaces that cannot be represented by classical geometry. These fractals are used particularly in computer modeling of irregular patterns and structures in nature. And it is this sense of a natural phenomenon, without specific references to place or scene, that imbues Bliss' recent work with glimpses of a more complex inner view.

Anna Campbell Bliss says she wants to continue programming because she is directly involved with the art-making process without the filter of other visions. Equally important to her is making connections: between the computer and the history of artists' experimentation, between math and poetry, and between the constructed and the natural.

According to Bliss, “Seeking understanding, expanding the limits of one's experience, sensing, feeling and enjoying are all aspects of my work in various media. Where study and art part ways is the point where the work itself makes demands that must be resolved. . .“

Exploring the possible resolution of these demands has garnered Anna Campbell Bliss many awards and earned her artwork places in solo exhibits such as Extended Vision, Salt Lake City Arts Council, Utah, 1993; American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C., 1991; Focus Gallery, San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California, 1981; Atrium Gallery, Salt Lake City Library, Utah, 1981; Lee Hall Gallery, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, 1979; and Color Into Light, Source Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1977.

Bliss has also participated in group exhibitions such as Museum Without Walls invited artists billboard project; 6th Biennial of Intermountain Painting; Algorithmic Art, Xerox PARK Research Lab, Palo Alto, California, 1994; 4th National Computer Art Invitational and Traveling Show, Eastern Washington University Gallery, Cheney, Washington, 1993-95; Utah Painting / Sculpture, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1994, 88, 86, 80, 78, and 64; Computer World Smithsonian Awards Exhibitions, National Building Museum, Washington, DC, 1991; International Color / Design Competition, Stuttgart Design Center, Germany, 1986-87, 1980-81; and Computer as Art, The Science Place, Dallas, Texas, 1986.

Her artworks are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Marriott Library, Salt Lake City; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City; Miami Gallery, Tokyo; and the Chicago Art Institute .Algorithmic Art, Xerox PARK Research Lab, Palo Alto, California, 1994; 4th National Computer Art Invitational and Traveling Show, Eastern Washington University Gallery, Cheney, Washington, 1993-95; Utah Painting / Sculpture, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1994, 88, 86, 80, 78, and 64; Computer World Smithsonian Awards Exhibitions, National Building Museum, Washington, D.C., 1991; International Color / Design Competition, Stuttgart Design Center, Germany, 1986-87, 1980-81; and Computer as Art, The Science Place, Dallas, Texas, 1986.

Bliss says, “Currently I am creating a multifaceted work for the Mathematics building at the University of Utah which reveals the range and influence of mathematics in related sciences, art and culture. It draws upon every aspect of my experience as well as requiring understanding of new scientific developments and technical solutions.“

Biography courtesy Springville Museum of Art

Newspaper Articles

"Architects Don't Follow Code in Artful Creations." The Salt Lake Tribune, February 21, l993.

"Artist Specializes in Counterfeiting the Commonplace." The Salt Lake Tribune, October 13, 1993.

"Artists Included in E-Spousing Art Show." The Deseret News, September 14, 2003.

"Best Bets." The Salt Lake Tribune, September 26, 1993.

"Campus Calendar" The Salt Lake Tribune, January 23, 1994.

"Forum Focuses on Art Criticism." The Salt Lake Tribune, March 17, 1991.

"The Circle Spiritual Art Contemporary Artists Strive to Create New Metaphors." The Salt Lake Tribune, December 25, 1994.

"Contemporary Arts Group Plans Meeting." The Salt Lake Tribune, January 28, 1998.

"Poets, Weavers, Writers and Painters Receive Arts Council Grants." The Salt Lake Tribune, December 14, 2003.

"Sanctuary Altar Focal Point in new Sandy Church. Light, Mountains Complement Sanctuary Altar in Sandy's St. Thomas More Catholic Church." The Salt Lake Tribune, February 12, 1994.

"Showing at local galleries." The Deseret News, April 25, 2004.

"Utah Marquee." The Salt Lake Tribune, October 1, 1993.

"Utahn's Computer-based Mural Makes Impression on High-tech World." The Salt Lake Tribune, May 5, 1991.

Books

Bliss, Anna C. Labyrinths of the Mind, Book 1. Salt Lake City, UT: A.C. Bliss, 2000.

Olpin, Robert S., William C. Seifrit, and Vern G. Swanson. Artists of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1999.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Paintings and Sculpture. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publishers, 1991.

 Last Modified 4/23/14