Mel Bochner’s art explores the power of words. His ability to combine words, color and texture has seen his work set new records at auction and is in more demand than ever. He paints, not just with oils, but with synonyms, and allows his viewers to find their own meanings in his words and their presentation.

Bochner’s 1969 wall drawing, Imagine the Enclosed Area Blue sold for $300,00 at November’s Art Basel in Miami.

The force of Bochner’s work is especially apparent in his Joy of Yiddish work, which was prominently displayed outside Munich’s Haus der Kunst, the museum built by the Nazis in 1937 to showcase what the Third Reich considered great German art. Bochner’s Yiddish words are boldly arranged at the entrance to the grounds, in yellow letters on a black background, the colors used on the armbands and patches that Jews were forced to wear to stigmatize them during Nazi occupation. The words themselves are somewhat fanciful, and open to interpretation, much like the Yiddish language. Words like KIBBITZER, KUNI LEMMEL, DREYKOP, ALTER KOCKER, MESHUGENER and PISHER describe a certain type of character. A Kibitzer is used to describe someone who like to chat and maybe even gossip, a Meshugener is a crazy person, but the terms are often used as endearments, depending on context.

Bochner grew up in a traditional Jewish home in Pittsburgh. As an apprentice to his father, a sign painter, Bochner became adept at integrating text and color. Always interested in language, Bochner is also interested in seeing the responses that his paintings elicit.

Blah, Blah, Blah is one of Bochner’s most popular works and has been used in many venues around the country. Bochner says he considers Blah, Blah, Blah to be, “the Black Hole of Language.”

Although Bochner’s lettering looks stenciled, it is all hand drawn and his technique, which combines engraving and embossing with oils, creates an industrial feel to his work.

Please contact VFA to learn more about the work of Mel Bochner and the other works in our gallery.

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