Mel Bochner - Floating World (Ukiyo-e)
American, b.1940
Floating World (Ukiyo-e), 1990
Woodcut, 13.25 x 18.375 inches
Edition 21/40
Ilene Kurtz

Gift of William J. Lutz and Karen Wicklund Lutz (MBA '78)

Although Mel Bochner’s art is related to a number of contemporary art movements, it is grounded in conceptualism, an avant-garde movement that emerged in the later 1960s. In conceptual art, the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. Conceptual artists took art beyond the object into the realm of language, knowledge, science, and worldly data, an approach that often resulted in the incorporation of unorthodox materials, photography, and the printed word. Variously using these elements in his works, Bochner’s conceptual art can also consist of pure geometric forms.

In the Floating World series of woodcuts, the title of which refers to the Japanese tradition of woodblock prints, he clusters schematic cubes that drift and spin in space. In each print, these cubes are placed in relationship to grid-like grounds—such as a plaid pattern or checkerboard. In what deceptively appears to be a logical sequence, the prints map out increasingly complex connections between the three-dimensional cubes and the two-dimensional grids.