Mel Bochner

  • Sheets 2 and 3 of Mel Bochner’s The Singer Notes, 1968.

    Mel Bochner

    IN 1968, THROUGH E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology), I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to work at the Singer Corporation’s research and development lab out in New Jersey. Someone thought it would be interesting to have an artist work in a think-tank situation with their scientists and engineers. It lasted about three months, two days a week, just sitting around with these guys and trying to find something to talk about. Singer had long since diversified from sewing machines; they were into all kinds of computer and aerospace technology at that point. I’d gone out there with a

  • Sol LeWitt

    Sol LeWitt died on April 8 at the age of seventy-eight. At the time, Artforum was poised to publish “Scribbles” a new group of seven drawings that he had recently completed for our pages. LeWitt had asked that these images be accompanied by no explanatory information, save for his name and the title on the table of contents. Though we might have been tempted to say more after learning of his passing, we presented the work in our May issue exactly as he had wished—yet now as a memorial tribute. Here, we follow that portfolio with remembrances by artists Mel Bochner and John Baldessari, LeWitt’s


    SOMETIMES AN EDITOR JUST NEEDS TO FILL THE PAGES. Or so Mel Bochner recently remarked, explaining how his collaboration with Robert Smithson, “The Domain of the Great Bear,” found its way into Art Voices magazine forty years ago this month. In this case, the fact that the publication’s editor, Sam Edwards, took a dim view of the artistic community’s increasingly theoretical peregrinations during the mid-’60s only helped the duo’s chances. The vague sense of befuddlement Edwards apparently felt at their idiosyncratic proposal to look at “cultural architecture and museums” was, according to Bochner,

  • Donald Judd in his Spring Street studio, New York, ca. 1970. Photo: Paul Katz.

    Mel Bochner on Donald Judd

    WHY DONALD JUDD’S WRITINGS? Why now? The recent republication of his Complete Writings 1959–1975 begs these questions. After all, there is a seriousness to Judd’s criticism that, in the money-fueled art world of today, can make it feel vaguely quaint. Divorced from the historical context of the mid-’60s, Judd’s involvement in the debates surrounding “specific objects” or “theatricality” might seem like the vestige of some long-forgotten family feud.

    However, when one looks around, it becomes immediately evident that the legacy of that quarrelsome period threads its way through much of what is

  • Finish Line

    WILLEM DE KOONING: I consider all painting free. As far as I’m concerned geometric shapes are not necessarily clear.

    AD REINHARDT: An emphasis on geometry is an emphasis on the “known,” on order and knowledge.

    HERBERT FERBER: Why is geometry more clear than the use of swirling shapes?

    REINHARDT: Let’s straighten out our terminology. . . . Vagueness is a “romantic” value, and clarity and “geometricity” are “classic” values.

    DE KOONING: I meant geometry in art. . . .

    MODERATOR [RICHARD LIPPOLD]: This means that a rectangle is unclear?

    DE KOONING: Yes. . . . If a man is influenced on the basis that

  • Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972

    Lucy Lippard, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 (New York: Praeger), 272 pages, 128 black-and-white illustrations.

    A point has been reached, with the publication of Lucy Lippard’s book The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972, where certain propositions can no longer go unquestioned. The understanding of the importance of these propositions will come only from an investigation of the internal contradictions of the book itself which, in turn, will reveal its hidden theoretical and ethical implications. As is often the case, the covert meaning of

  • A Note on Dorothea Rockburne

    IF WE ASK HOW it is that ideas and objects intersect and what is the nature of the reciprocity between thought and sight we are asking the essential questions to which Dorothea Rockburne’s art addresses itself. Her work is central to the evolvement of the most penetrating being done today because it has broken with the use of language as representation.

    Language in itself is now understood to be a system of elements—a threshold above which is difference and below which is similitude. Freed from transparency, language is order, and the order form becomes the content. Rockburne has developed a

  • Excerpts from Speculation (1967–1970)

    FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS I do not like the term “conceptual art.” Connotations of an easy dichotomy with perception are obvious and inappropriate. The unfortunate implication is of a somewhat magical/mystical leap from one mode of existence to another. The problem is the confusion of idealism and intention. By creating an original fiction, “conceptualism” posits its special non-empirical existence as a positive (transcendent) value. But no amount of qualification (or documentation) can change the situation. Outside the spoken word, no thought can exist without a sustaining support.

    A fundamental

  • The Serial Attitude

    What ordertype is universally present wherever there is any order in the world? The answer is, serial order. What is a series? Any row, array, rank, order of precedence, numerical or quantitative set of values, any straight line, any geometrical figure employing straight lines, and yes, all space and all time.
    —Josiah Royce, Principles Of Logic

    SERIAL ORDER IS A METHOD, not a style. The results of this method are surprising and diverse. Edward Muybridge’s photographs, Thomas Eakins’s perspective studies, Jasper Johns’s numerals, Alfred Jensen’s polyptychs, Larry Poons’s circles, dots and ellipsoids,