Mel Bochner, Head Honcho, 2017


Mel Bochner Head Honcho, 2017 monotype for sale at Masterworks Fine Art Gallery

Signed Mel Bochner Monotype, Head Honcho, 2017

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Artist: Mel Bochner (1940 - )

Title: Head Honcho, 2017

Medium: Monoprint in oil paint with collage, engraving and embossment on hand-dyed Twinrocker handmade paper

Image Size: 29 1/2 in x 20 1/2 in (74.9 cm x 52.1 cm)

Sheet Size: 29 1/2 in x 20 1/2 in (74.9 cm x 52.1 cm)

Edition: A unique and original monoprint in oil paint

Signature: This work is hand-signed by Mel Bochner (Pittsburgh, 1940 - ) in pencil in the lower left.

Condition: This work is in excellent condition.

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Historical Description of this artwork


A bold artwork from renowned American Conceptual artist, Mel Bochner Head Honcho, 2017 features a stunning palette of bright colors. Horizontal stripes of different colored hand-dyed Twinrocker paper are collaged together to create a multicolored rectangular background.  In a portrait orientation, twelve lines of text fill the composition from left to right, and top to bottom reading: “HEAD HONCHO | TOP DOG, KING | OF THE HILL, | MASTER OF | THE UNIVERSE. | LAY DOWN THE | LAW, CALL THE | SHOTS, CRACK | THE WHIP, RULE | WITH AN IRON |HAND, GOTCHA | BY THE BALLS,” with each word alternating in color from the preceding.  This array of synonyms is poignant on its own, while the graphic capital letters and striking colors add another layer of intensity. To arrive at this text, Bochner would choose words from a thesaurus, and arrange the words to fit a designated format, in this case, rectangle measuring roughly 29 inches tall and 20 inches wide. Bochner elaborates on his process, comparing it to “a sort of degegeneration of language, as it moves from the more polite and formal to the more vulgar and bodily” (Bochner, A Conversation between Mel Bochner and Barry Schwabsky, Mel Bochner Monoprints, New York: Two Palms, 2012).  Pure oil paint with strong pigmentation make up the lettering of this language based artwork. The glossy and thick impasto of the paint is raised in a painterly relief against the mat, and flat background of the collaged paper base, providing for a visually alluring contrast in texture.

Created in 2017, this monoprint in oil paint with collage, engraving and embossment on hand-dyed Twinrocker handmade paper is hand-signed and dated by Mel Bochner (Pittsburgh, 1940 – ) in pencil. Mel Bochner Head Honcho, 2017  is a unique and original work.

Catalogue Raisonné & COA:

1. Bochner, Mel. Monoprints: Mel Bochner: Words, Words, Words…New York: Two Palms, 2012. A similar monoprint in a different color and size listed and illustrated as catalogue raisonné no. 15.

2. A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany this artwork.

About the Framing:

Framed to museum-grade, conservation standards, Mel Bochner Head Honcho, 2017 is presented in a complementary moulding.

What Do I Get With My Purchase?

The Certificate of Authenticity accompanies this work, guaranteeing its authenticity for as long as you own it.

All catalogue raisonné and historical documentation is included with your purchase.

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Style: Conceptual Art, Installation Art

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Artistic Styles of Bochner

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Mel Bochner Complete Biography

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Mel Bochner American Artist from NYC
Mel Bochner (1940-)

Mel Bochner Biography

Born in 1950 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mel Bochner was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home. His father was a sign painter who he occasionally worked for. In 1962, Mel Bochner graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a BFA. From there he went on to briefly study philosophy at Northwestern University in Chicago before taking the plunge and moving to New York in 1964. His first job in the city was as a museum guard at the Jewish Museum. In 1966 he was approached by art critic Dore Ashton at the museum, and told that he should apple for a job teaching at the School of Visual Arts in New York City – Mel Bochner received an offer and became a teacher there.

His first show was Working Drawings And Other Visible Things On Paper Not Necessarily Meant To Be Viewed As Art in 1966 the School of Visual Arts. The show consisted of Xeroxed copies of his friends’ works placed in four black binders individually placed on four white pedestals. The impetus for such a layout partially came from the fact that there was not enough money to frame and display all of the original drawings that Mel Bochner had collected. Luckily, he was adept at thinking on his feet as well as being familiar with using photographs in his artistic process. This exhibition has become known as an important show in the Conceptual Art movement.

Mel Bochner felt stuck in abstract expressionism after graduating college, though he desperately longed to move away from the artistic movement. Finally he found a niche for himself when he began to explore the usage of words in fine art, and the intersection between painting and language. He started to see ideas as more important to a piece of art than the formal techniques that created it. Thus began his so-called Thesaurus paintings. These paintings and prints consist of synonyms displayed together. He found that introducing language to the visual aspect of art meant that many interesting and novel questions were asked and explored. Such questions as: who is the audience and who is the speaker of the words.

Mel Bochner started working on monotypes in 1994. He was originally drawn to the medium because of the embossing possibilities that it provides.Mel Bochner also talks about how he likes the unpredictability of the end product in contrast with the quite careful and scientific way that his plates are cut. Firstly, Mel Bochner is working within the confines of the page and the line. There are only so many characters that can fit on a given line, and this is the baseline constraint when setting up his synonyms. Once this is tackled, rearranging begins based on the feel and look of the words next to one another. Generally there is a directionality to the words, becoming more intense or vulgar in tone as they proceed across and down the page. Finally, once the Plexiglas stencil has been cut, Mel Bochner lays it over the pre-dyed paper to discuss coloring. At times Mel Bochner chooses to use color to affirm the words, and at other times he chooses deliberately to ignore color systems and paints with no discernable pattern. To achieve total randomization, Mel Bochner will ask his assistants to pick colors. Instead of letting go of the reins of the artistic process, Mel Bochner sees this as a way of opening himself up to new possibilities and ways of looking at his art – always a valuable skill.

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