The Mel Bochner: Strong Language exhibit closed last month, but I was able to squeak in just before the end. It has been reviewed by Ken Johnson of The New York Times, who undoubtedly does a better job of describing the collection than I ever could. So instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, let's just look at some pretty pictures of pretty pictures!
This series, painted between 1997-2000, features a quote by German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: "To observe is not the same thing as to look or to view. Look at this color and say what it reminds you of. If the color changes, you are no longer looking at the one I meant. One observes in order to see what one would not see if one did not observe." (That's... yeah.)
Bochner paints with different colors and patterns to emphasize different words--are you seeing the color he meant, or not?
From the entry, the gallery flows into his 'Thesaurus' series. Bochner sees the thesaurus more in terms of its own synonym, a 'warehouse of words.' Here are a few of my favorites--
The gallery features four works that have never before been displayed, three of which are grouped on the same wall together:
All or Nothing, Amazing, and Babble.
There also were a few pieces of Bochner's sketches and older works. I thought it was interesting to see the way that he arranges text before ever putting paint to canvas.
Finally, one of my favorite pieces was Self/Portrait, 1966 and 2013. The 1966 image is below, printed in ink of graph paper. The left column is devoted to synonyms of 'Self', and the right to 'Portrait'. The most interesting combinations come when you read the pairs across... anybody up for a self portrait, I mean spirit mirror?