But a work of art is the product of thought which precedes the actual work. Now that art has freed itself from both referential and abstract burdens artists face a new paradox. Is ambiguity inherent in the thing or is it created by ambiguous elements?
Mel Bochner b. 1940
Mel Bochner is one of the leading American conceptual artists. Born in Pittsburgh in 1940, Bochner studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, where he earned his B.A. in studio art in 1962. As a young artist living in New York, Bochner worked as a guard at the Jewish Museum. He became inspired by the artwork he was guarding, which included Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Kenneth Noland. In 1966, Bochner was the organizer of one of the first exhibits devoted to conceptual art in New York. Along with Bruce Nauman, Bochner was a pioneer of creating photo documentation of ephemeral art events.
Starting in 1970, Bochner began to create paintings that dealt with the relationship between language and the visual field. By the 1980s, Bochner had moved to creating strictly structural paintings on shaped canvas. In 1995, the Yale University Gallery of Art held a retrospective of his early works entitled Mel Bochner: Thought Made Visible 1966–1973. In 2005, Bochner received an honorary degree from Carnegie Mellon University.
Always investigating new mediums, in 2010, Bochner proclaimed his love for experimentation in his famous essay entitled The Medium is the Tedium. The Jewish Museum of Art celebrated Bochner’s work with a major retrospective in 2014. Bochner currently lives in New York and teaches at the Yale University School of Art. His work is represented in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Tate Museum in London, among many others.