Artist Mel Bochner Teaches Seven-Year-Olds What It Means to Be Grabbed by the Balls During Art Basel

detail from Head Honcho, 2012
detail from Head Honcho, 2012
courtesy of Quint Contemporary Art

"JUST SHUT THE F*CK UP!"

...Or so insists one of Mel Bochner's large, mixed media text-based pieces. It's currently in the home of one of a collector, where its "beautiful muted pinks and yellows look great on a grey slate wall in his living room," according to Sarah Trujillo-Porter. Her Quint Contemporary Art has brought Bochner's latest work to Miami Project.

Bochner's work has been getting attention for decades but not always in the expected ways. Trujillo-Porter remembers a recent show of his in March, which featured Head Honcho, a piece that has made the trip to Miami. 


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Mel Bochner, Go Away, 2012
Mel Bochner, Go Away, 2012
courtesy of Quint Contemporary Art

"When I would see families enter the gallery," she tells Cultist, "I would tell the parents, 'Just so you're aware, there's profanity in the work.'"

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Head Honcho, much like sugared cereals in the grocery store, blares the phrase "GOTCHA BY THE BALLS" right at eye-level for young children.

"There was a little boy, about seven or eight," Trujillo-Porter says. "He says, 'Mommy? What does "gotcha by the balls" mean?' She handled it really well. She said, 'It's when you're in a tough spot.' So it was educational for the young lad."

At 72, Bochner may not seem to be a young lad, but he does have an 18-year-old daughter.

"He uses slang and profanity. It's all very current; he started as a conceptual artist and so he can kind of reach out to a younger generation through concepts. And he has a pathway through his daughter," Trujillo-Porter tells us. Bochner isn't the only, er, young at heart artist that Quint represents. "Robert Irwin is 85 and also has an 18-year-old daughter."

Which isn't to say that the gallery only works with surprisingly virile men in their golden years.

"We like with the emerging artists," Trujillo-Porter says. "But it's nice to be able to work with artists like Mel and Robert, as well."

Mel Bochner, Head Honcho, 2012
Mel Bochner, Head Honcho, 2012
courtesy of Quint Contemporary Art

Mel Bochner's website is melbochner.net and Quint Contemporary Art is at quintgallery.com.

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