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The Jewish Museum in New York to Open MEL BOCHNER: STRONG LANGUAGE, 5/2

Bochner's interest in language and translation, as seen in his "Wittgenstein" paintings (1997-2001), extends to the Yiddishisms that pepper the text of several of his Thesauruspaintings. In Kvetch, Kvetch, Kvetch (2010) the word becomes an onomatopoetic expression of itself. This work may be seen as an analogue to his series titled Blah, Blah, Blah (2008-2012) which offers the repetition of that single word as a vehicle for alienated thought.

The final gallery of the exhibition features two paintings in which words have vanished and only punctuation and "leetspeak," a way of writing on the internet where letters are replaced by numbers or other symbols, remain. Colon Open Parenthesis (2011) is a hand-painted emoticon, a typed symbol of the frowny face common in text messaging, often used when words fail. Dollar Hash Exclamation Plus (2011) uses these symbols both to represent swearing and to spell out an expletive that can pass a web-based censor: $#!+. Also on view is a suite of paintings, And/If/Or/But (2006), in which these prepositions and conjunctions appear in iridescent paint that changes color as the viewer moves past them. As always, Bochner explores a wide array of meaning from the unintelligible to the hopeless, from despair to discomfort, from indifference to protest.

Mel Bochner: Strong Language is organized by Norman L. Kleeblatt, Susan & Elihu Rose Chief Curator of The Jewish Museum. The exhibition design is by Smithsonian - Cooper Hewitt National Design Award winners, Tsao & McKown Architects.

In conjunction with the exhibition, The Jewish Museum and Yale University Press are co-publishing a 144-page catalogue by Norman L. Kleeblatt with a text by Mel Bochner. Mr. Kleeblatt discusses the evolution of Bochner's art from his early word experiments through his return to painting, while Bochner offers a personal perspective. Both Kleeblatt and Bochner address the question of Jewishness in Bochner's work, particularly the ways in which Jewish intellectual tradition embraces language as a visual expressive form. Featuring 101 color and 11 black and white illustrations, the book will be available worldwide and at The Jewish Museum's Cooper Shop for $45.00.

Widely admired for its exhibitions and collections that inspire people of all backgrounds, The Jewish Museum is one of the world's preeminent institutions devoted to exploring art and Jewish culture from ancient to contemporary. Located at Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, The Jewish Museum organizes a diverse schedule of internationally acclaimed and award-winning temporary exhibitions as well as dynamic and engaging programs for families, adults, and school groups. The Museum was established in 1904, when Judge Mayer Sulzberger donated 26 ceremonial art objects to The Jewish Theological Seminary of America as the core of a museum collection. Today, the Museum maintains a collection of 25,000 objects - paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, video, archaeological artifacts, ritual objects, and broadcast media.

The Jewish Museum is located at 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, New York City. Museum hours are Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, 11am to 5:45pm; Thursday, 11am to 8pm; and Friday, 11am to 4pm. Museum admission is $15.00 for adults, $12.00 for senior citizens, $7.50 for students, free for visitors 18 and under and Jewish Museum members. Admission is Pay What You Wish on Thursdays from 5pm to 8pm and free on Saturdays. For information on The Jewish Museum, the public may call 212.423.3200 or visit the website at

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