Mel Bochner is an American Conceptual artist best known for his text-based paintings. Bochner’s popular 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.”
Bochner’s intellectual and material analysis of photography, painting and sculpture has produced ground-breaking works that have established his reputation as one of the leading American conceptualists. Throughout his career, the artist has explored the intersection of linguistic and visual representation. His early works dissected the art object and formed the ‘analytical’ groundwork so crucial in informing the basis for the more ‘synthetic’ works of recent years. In the wake of abstract expressionism artists felt there was little to add to painting and this triggered in Bochner a response that was more about thinking than making. He started to find clear ways of looking at art and to question how we experience depth, perspective and space. He went on to explore language and colour in the same way.
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.