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.” 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. His influential critical and theoretical essays on art have figured as a central component to his oeuvre. The artist continues to live and work in New York, NY. 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.