Still from video. Galleria, Sperone, Turin, 1970. Degrees (Installation view). Paint on wall, twine and nails. Size determined by installation. Bochner archive.

Resonance and Revelation: My Italian Days

American artist Mel Bochner in conversation with art historian and former Magazzino Scholar-in-Residence Tenley Bick.

A floor sculpture, made out of a Pythagorean arrangement of stones, then hazelnuts, then shards of Murano glass, discovered in a cardboard box in Lucio Fontana’s former studio. Ping pong rallies to the Fibonacci series with Mario Merz and verbal back-and-forths with Alighiero Boetti. Shared interests in language, systems, and wit.

American artist Mel Bochner has been at the forefront of Conceptual Art since the mid-1960s. Less well known, however, are the artist’s exhibitions and intersections with artists in Italy during the formative decades of his career. During his “Italian days,” Bochner exhibited and worked all over Italy—from Bari to Turin, Anacapri to Milan.

Bochner joined art historian and former Magazzino Scholar-in-Residence Tenley Bick (Assistant Professor of Global Contemporary Art, Florida State University) in conversation, discussing the “odd resonances” Bochner found between his work, American art, and Italian art of the 1960s and 1970s, as captured in Bochner, Boetti, Fontana. The program was streamed live on this page on Friday, January 29, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. EST.

In tandem with this conversation, Magazzino Italian Art launched the publication of Bochner’s latest artist book, Language Is Not Transparent (Babble)2020. Published by Noireditore in Turin, here Bochner makes use of the page as an alternative space. Using the Leporello format, the viewer can experience the work in a seamless continuum in unfolding the accordioned pages. Language Is Not Transparent (Babble) translates the original English statement into 14 different languages creating an illegible tower of Babel. Exposing how language and meaning shifts in different cultural contexts and across translation, this work becomes more poignant in the current social and political landscape. For those interested in learning more about the book or purchasing it, please contact

Bochner Boetti Fontana

Magazzino Italian Art
October 2, 2020–April 5, 2021
Entryway view of Bochner Boetti Fontana at Magazzino Italian Art, Cold Spring, New York

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