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Mel Bochner

Sylvia Plath famously called herself ‘Roget’s strumpet’, referring to her dependence on the famous thesaurus, which has remained in print since its first publication in 1852. Mel Bochner, whose practice has been defined by an investigation of the potential of synonymous language, might be described similarly.

Curated by James Meyer, ‘In the Tower: Mel Bochner’ includes two bodies of work, interrelated but separated by 40 years. The first room groups the artist’s works onpaper, ranging from those made in the 1960s to studies in the service of his morerecent ‘Thesaurus Paintings’ (2003–11). The latter works, which fill the second gallery, are constituted entirely of words, or figures of speech, which describe a single idea or feeling (for example, ‘futile, aimless, pointless, absurd’ appear as a string of words in Useless, 2005). Bochner’s subject is the English language, and both rooms excavate its potential meanings and limits...

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