Mel Bochner is recognized as one of the leading figures in the development of Conceptual art in New York in the 1960s and 1970s. Bochner’s best known thesaurus painting series consists of lists of synonyms displayed in rainbow-colored palettes, often featuring a single word repeated in painterly capital letters, as seen in his seminal piece Blah, Blah, Blah (2008). “My feeling was that there were ways of extending, or re-inventing visual experience, but that it was very important that it remain visual,” he reflected on introducing text into his work. “The viewer should enter the idea through a visual or phenomenological experience rather than simply reading it.”
Born in 1940 in Pittsburgh, PA, he earned his BFA from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1962. Travelling to New York in 1964, Bochner began working as a guard at the Jewish Museum and settled in the city. Like Eva Hesse, Robert Smithson, and Donald Judd, Bochner experimented with ideas that broke away from the dominate Abstract Expressionism of the early 1960s and developed an ongoing commitment to semiotic representation. As both an artist and critic, Bochner has served as an interpreter and interlocutor for many other artists of his generation. His early writings, including Art in Process—Structures (Arts Magazine, 1966), Serial Art Systems: Solipsism (Arts Magazine, 1967), and The Serial Attitude (Artforum, 1967), all attempted to elucidate some of the fundamental ideas at work in minimalism and early conceptualism
Major exhibitions of Bochner’s work include Mel Bochner: Thought Made Visible 1966–1973 at the Yale University Art Gallery in 1995; Mel Bochner: Photographs 1966–1969 at the Harvard University Art Museums in 2002; Mel Bochner: Language 1966–2006 at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006; and Mel Bochner: Strong Language at the Jewish Museum in 2014. Bochner’s works are included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., among others. The artist continues to live and work in New York, NY.