Drawings by Mel Bochner – a retrospective
The Art Institute of Chicago – April 23 to August 22, 2022 Chicago (US)
In a career that spanned almost six decades. Mel Bochner was at the forefront of conceptual art. Producing thought-provoking works in almost every field. Drawing, painting, prints, photography, sculpture, books and installations.
This exhibition is the first to use drawing as the main axis of organization. Highlighting the importance of this body of work in the practice of the artist from his beginnings in the 1960s to the present day. The exhibition demonstrates Bochner’s pioneering role in redefining the traditional boundaries of drawing. And illuminates the artist’s evolving ideas about seriality, temporality and the shift between word and image.
The exhibition includes nearly 90 works from all phases of his career. Including several from the museum’s extensive collection of early Bochner drawings and exploring the artist’s central themes of language. Numbers, measurements, shape and visual perception. Traditional drawing techniques (ink, pencil, pastel, chalk and charcoal on paper) join media as diverse as burnt matches on paper. The oil paint on newspaper, the wall drawings in powdered pigments and, in a provocative way, the stones laid out on the ground.
Bochner remarked, “The materiality of a design is central to its meaning. Each medium reveals something but hides something else. A change of medium can reveal what was hidden, allowing new thoughts to emerge. He always defied any rigid definition of drawing, and his work constantly broadened the field with the insistent question, “What is not drawing?”
This exhibition celebrates this question.
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