Word Artists: Mel Bochner, Barbara Kruger Making a Statement on Canvas or Otherwise
Art with words, words have meaning and so do these statement pieces. If you aren’t yet aware of this form, here are some of the artists, like Mel Bochner, who do it best.
He’s been making art for more than 50 years, and he’s best known for his word art. When you view his art, you get a sense of his slightly acerbic humor and ability to translate that into color and words or phrases. Sometimes he sticks with one word over and over – that shows in his Blah, Blah, Blah works, the best known of that is in shades of blue and white, and by the bottom of the work, the Blahs are melting or dripping into the background blues.
Bochner is also has a clever one with lines and numbers called Speculariam, a series of paintings with different background colors and a center line with arrows going each direction on every painting. Each painting also has a number denoting the width of that painting. These are displayed side-by-side without breaks create a horizon line. Because the paintings are different heights, it looks almost like a colorful city skyline with a reflection underneath.
His works have been exhibited in museums around the world including The MoMA in New York, National Art Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery in London, and Kuntzmuseum in Luzern, Switzerland. He’s taught at various Schools of Art including Yale, Carnegie Mellon University, and the School of Visual Arts in New York.
“I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to determine who we are and who we aren’t.” Kruger’s own statement about her art explains it well. Her trademark includes black and white photographs or drawings (many retrieved from old magazines) overlaid with fire engine red banners and white wording.
Kurger uses art to offer a different perspective about culture, consumerism, feminism, desire, and independent thinking. Many of her works are billboard-sized or murals on buildings. In 2012, Belief+Doubt=Sanity covered 6,700 square feet of surface area using her signature red, white, and black and was installed at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
He was one of the early artists of this group using words as part of the art. His early works often included an item, a picture of photocopy of the item, and a printed definition of the item. An example of this treatment is one of his most famous works, One and Three Chairs, featuring a physical chair, a photograph of that chair, and the text of a dictionary definition of the word “chair.” Many of Kosuth’s more recent pieces are words in neon light. His works have appeared all around the world in places such as Frankfurt, Tachikawa (Japan), Stockholm, Brussels, New York, and Boston.
Though each uses words as an integral part of their art, their works and words are vastly different from each other. Mel Bochner, Barbara Kruger & Joseph Kosuth also work in messaging.