San Francisco

Mel Bochner

Fraenkel Gallery

Challenging the claim that “photography cannot record abstract ideas,” Mel Bochner used the medium to do just that. In this career-spanning exhibition, ten photo-based works documented the Conceptualist’s efforts to upend photographic convention. (The show also included paintings and a wall drawing.) Serving as the exhibition’s poster image was the iconic Surface Dis/Tension, 1968. Here, the artist photographed a grid receding into space so that, distilled as an image, it appeared perspectivally distorted. Taking this photo as a base object, Bochner soaked the print in water, allowing the emulsion to buckle the paper as it dried. He then reshot this processed image both in negative and positive, combining the two versions in the darkroom and thereby creating more layers of photographic strata, before mounting the meta-image on aluminum and trimming the metal to follow the uneven edges of

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