Mel Bochner is recognized as one of the leading figures in the development of Conceptual art in New York in the 1960s and 1970s. Emerging at a time when painting was increasingly discussed as outmoded, Bochner became part of a new generation of artists which also included Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, and Robert Smithson – artists who, like Bochner, were looking at ways of breaking with Abstract Expressionism and traditional compositional devices. His pioneering introduction of the use of language in the visual, led Harvard University art historian Benjamin Buchloh to describe his 1966 Working Drawings as probably the first truly conceptual exhibition.’
Bochner came of age during the second half of the 1960s, a moment of radical change both in society at large as well as in art. While painting slowly lost its preeminent position in modern art, language moved from talking about art to becoming part of art itself. Bochner has consistently probed the conventions of both painting and of language, the way we construct and understand them, and the way they relate to one another to make us more attentive to the unspoken codes that underpin our engagement with the world.
– Mel Bochner: If The Color Changes
Mel Bochner studied at Carnegie Institute of Technology where he received his B.F.A. in 1962. Since 1964 he has lived and worked in New York City. He has exhibited widely in the United States and Europe and his work is represented in the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris.
In 2005 he received an honorary doctor of fine arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University. Mel Bochner has also taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He was appointed to the Yale faculty in 1979 as senior critic in painting/printmaking and in 2001 was appointed professor (adjunct).