Welcome to “Mel Bochner: Strong Language,” an exploration of the work of an artist who participated in expanding the boundaries of what we consider art to be today. Artist and writer, Mel Bochner is celebrated for his key role during the 1960s and 70s in the evolution of Conceptualism—experimental art in which the idea is more important than the physical work itself. For over five decades, he has explored the complex relationship between the visual and the intellectual, with words and language serving as the medium, subject, and method for his art-making. Unlike many Conceptual artists who reject traditional mediums, Bochner embraces the physicality of painting, drawing, and printmaking—creating hybrid, open-ended works that are at once sensually textured and intellectually challenging, rigorous, and humorous. Bochner himself has said, “Judaism has a rich linguistic heritage, which threads itself through my work in ways that I’m aware of, and others that I’m probably unaware of.” At the same time he avoids ascribing specific motives to his paintings. This exhibition highlights Bochner’s ongoing interplay between the verbal and the visual, including early conceptual works, word portraits, and his much admired recent thesaurus-based paintings.
In addition to comments from the artist, on the tour, you’ll hear from Claudia Gould, Helen Goldsmith Menschel director of The Jewish Museum, Norman Kleeblatt, Susan and Elihu Rose Chief Curator at the Jewish Museum and the curator of this exhibition. Suzanne Cohen, collector and former Chair of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Jill Krause, collector, and Piera Bochner, the artist’s daughter will offer their insights as well.
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