Mel Bochner

American, b. 1940

SOLD Silence, 2011, monoprint with collage, engraving and embossment on hand-dyed, handmade Twinrocker paper, 12 x 9 inches


Mel Bochner is an American conceptual artist living in New York City. Bochner was born in Pittsburgh in 1940 and he earned early recognition for his budding artistic talents from The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.  He studied with Joseph Fitzpatrick, a teacher known for having also taught Andy Warhol and Philip Pearlstein.  After graduating from Carnegie Mellon in 1992, he studied philosophy at Northwestern University near Chicago.  He moved to New York in 1964 and worked as a guard at The Jewish Museum.  He was recruited by the art critic Dore Ashton to teach art at the School of Visual Arts in 1966.

Bochner is credited for developing several exhibition strategies that are now taken for granted, including using the walls of a gallery as the subject of the work and using photo documentation of impermanent and performance works.  A prime example is 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,” in which he photocopied his friends’ working drawings, including a $3,051.16 fabricator’s bill from the artist Donald Judd.  He displayed the photocopies in four black binders on pedestals.  The show was remade in 1998 at the Drawing Center in New York.

Bochner began painting in 1970.  His paintings range from exuberantly colorful works containing words and phrases, to works more clearly connected to the conceptual art of his early career. Major exhibitions of Bochner’s work include a 1985 survey (and accompanying catalog) at Carnegie Mellon Art Gallery; a retrospective at Yale University Art Gallery in 1995; the 2004 Whitney Biennial; and a 2011 retrospective at the National Gallery of Art.  His work is included in several major museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.