Blah Blah Blah
Words have long been the building blocks of Bochner’s art. His first such efforts were a direct response to the generation of Abstract Expressionists that preceded him and to the proto-Pop artists, such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, who influenced him early on.
“Repetition and reinvention play a major role in Mel’s work over time,” Norman L. Kleeblatt, says of Bochner’s recurring themes, such as synonyms, Yiddish words, and the “blah” refrain. “We’ll have a number of works that show how he will change a material or a concept—or take an object and remake it so that it has an entirely different meaning.”
One change Bochner has noticed over the years is how viewers behave around his pieces in the gallery setting. “It seems that people like to have their pictures taken in front of my paintings,” he said, particularly the “Blah, Blah, Blah” works.
“The paintings seem to touch some universal way of expressing people’s negativity,” the artist added. “Maybe having your photo in front of one is a way of taking psychological possession of that negativity.” Or an art selfie? Bochner perked up at the unfamiliar term.