Mel Bochner received his BFA from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh in 1962. Shortly after moving to New York City in 1964, he became involved in two of the major movements of the period—minimal art, which was already being developed by artists such as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Sol LeWitt, and conceptual art, a then-nascent movement of which Bochner would become a key figure. In 1966 he organized the exhibition Working Drawings And Other Visible Things On Paper Not Necessarily Meant To Be Viewed As Art at the School of Visual Arts, New York—a show that is now considered to be one of the first conceptual art exhibitions. The same year Bochner began making photo works, including his important 36 Photographs and 12 Diagrams, which was exhibited at Dwan Gallery, New York, in 1967. In 1969 the artist created his now-famous Measurement Room at Galerie Heiner Friedrich in Munich, Germany.
As both an artist and critic, Bochner has served as an interpreter and interlocutor for many other artists of his generation. His early writings, including Art in Process—Structures (Arts Magazine, 1966), Serial Art Systems: Solipsism (Arts Magazine, 1967), and The Serial Attitude (Artforum, 1967), all attempted to elucidate some of the fundamental ideas at work in minimalism and early conceptualism. Major exhibitions of Bochner’s work include Mel Bochner: Thought Made Visible 1966–1973 at the Yale University Art Gallery in 1995; Mel Bochner: Photographs 1966–1969 at the Harvard University Art Museums in 2002; Mel Bochner: Language 1966–2006 at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006; and Mel Bochner: Strong Language at the Jewish Museum in 2014.