Mel Bochner (b. 1940)



Mel Bochner (b. 1940)

(New) Ha, 2021
Monoprint in oil with collage, engraving and embossment, on handmade paper
30 x 21.50 in
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Mel Bochner (b. 1940)

 

 

Mel Bochner [born 1940] is recognized as one of the leading figures in the development of Conceptual art. Bochner came of age during the second half of the 1960s, a moment of radical change both in society at large as well as in art. While painting slowly lost its preeminent position in modern art, language moved from talking about art to becoming part of art itself. With Bochner at the head of the movement, a new generation of artists which also included Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, and Robert Smithson, sought ways to break away from Abstract Expressionism. His 1966 show at the School of Visual Arts, "Working Drawings And Other Visible Things On Paper Not Necessarily Meant To Be Viewed As Art", is regarded as a seminal show in the conceptual art movement. Bochner photocopied his friends’ working drawings, including a $3,051.16 fabricator’s bill from Donald Judd. He collected the copies in four black binders and displayed them on four pedestals. The show was remade at the Drawing Center, New York, in 1998. Bochner began making prints and paintings in the 1970s, with works ranging from extremely colorful works containing words to works more clearly connected to the conceptual art he pioneered. For a 1998 work titled Event Horizon, for example, he arranged pre-stretched canvases of various sizes along a wall, each marked with a horizontal line and a number denoting its width in inches. Together, the lines appear to form a horizon, creating what Jeffrey Weiss in his catalog essay for Bochner’s 2007 exhibit Event Horizon called a representation of “the world as a fantasy of quantifiable truth.” His works containing text, such as Head Honcho, Shut Up and the infamous Blah, Blah, Blah have captivated Contemporary collectors around the globe. Bochner repeats a rhythmic, graphic pattern that slowly reveals itself as a textual play with words. At first glance, the work appears as stark, bold, abstracted shapes. Upon closer inspection, the viewer identifies phrases, like “Blah, Blah, Blah”, scrawled together. Bochner deploys this phrase instead of the singular use of the word “blah” for a new effect. It seeks to reflect commentary on the blather of advertisers, politicians, and bloggers – while also critiquing the social media world of texts and tweets. Bochner creates a parade of words, shamelessly demanding for attention. In 2004, Bochner’s work was exhibited in the Whitney Biennial, at London’s Tate Modern in 2005 and 2011, the National Gallery of Art held a major retrospective for the artist. His pieces are held in numerous major museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

 

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USA
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