Ogden Minton Pleissner was born on April 29, 1905 in Brooklyn, New York, son of George W. and Christine Minton Pleissner. He began his education at the Brooklyn Friends School. One summer while a teenager, he was sent to Charlie Moore's ranch in Dubois, Wyoming, in order to improve his health. During pack trips, camping, and trout fishing in Yellowstone Park and the Buffalo Forks country, Pleissner became devoted to the outdoor life, developing his skills as a hunter and fisherman. He began drawing images of horses, cowboys, Native Americans, and scenery and realized that his interest in art was strong enough to pursue it in school.
From 1924 to 1927 Pleissner attended the Art Students League in New York, studying under George Bridgman and Frank V. DuMond. Pleissner continued his studies with DuMond in Cape Breton, where he also met Mary Corbett whom he married in 1929. In the following year, Pleissner held his first solo exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery in New York. Although he maintained a studio in New York City, Pleissner and his wife spent many summers in Wyoming, later expanding their travel to Europe.
In 1940 Pleissner was elected a National Academician. Two years later, he was commissioned by the U.S. Office of Emergency Management on the advice of the Section of Fine Arts to visit various war industries to make a group of 10 paintings depicting the work in these plants.
In 1943, Pleissner was commissioned as Captain in the Army Air Forces to work as an artist with the Historical Division, painting a record of the Air Force activities. After training, he was deployed to Anchorage, Alaska, and from there he visited many of the Aleutian Islands. Due to lack of funding, his original mission was changed, and he was put on inactive duty in November 1943, in order to continue his work as a War Art Correspondent for Life magazine. This allowed him to complete his paintings of the Aleutian Islands. In the spring of 1944, he flew to headquarters in London, England, later following the Normandy invasion through northern France, he painted scenes from the critical battle at St. Lo. In the summer of 1945, Life magazine sent him on a tour of Europe to make a series of paintings of the most significant battle sites, including Omaha Beach, Remagen, and Anzio.
During his post-war career, Pleissner participated in many organizations, including his service as vice-president of the National Academy of Design, director of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and trustee at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. He was also a member of the Salmagundi Club, the National Arts Club, and the Brooklyn Society of Artists. His work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum.
In the 1970s Pleissner traveled extensively in Europe and spent summers at his studio in Pawlet, Vermont.
Ogden M. Pleissner died of a heart attack on October 24, 1983 in London, England.