Floating
World (Ukiyo-E)

Mel Bochner's Floating World (Ukiyo-E) print series consists of five woodcuts: Floating World 1, Floating World 2, Floating World 3, Floating World 4, and Floating World 5. Produced in 1990, the series draws inspiration from the traditional Japanese art form of ukiyo-e, translating it into a contemporary context through Bochner's characteristic use of conceptual frameworks and language. Each piece explores the transient and often illusory nature of perception and reality, embodied through abstract forms and thoughtful engagement with space and colour.

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Meaning & Analysis

Mel Bochner's Floating World (Ukiyo-E) print series consists of five woodcuts: Floating World 1, Floating World 2, Floating World 3, Floating World 4, and Floating World 5. Produced in 1990, the series draws inspiration from the traditional Japanese art form of ukiyo-e, translating it into a contemporary context through Bochner's characteristic use of conceptual frameworks and language. Each piece explores the transient and often illusory nature of perception and reality, embodied through abstract forms and thoughtful engagement with space and colour.

The series features a combination of abstract geometric shapes and a palette that ranges from vibrant to muted, reflecting the tension between movement and stasis, presence and absence. Bochner's use of language, often seen in his other works, is more subdued in this series, focusing instead on the visual language to convey his philosophical inquiries. The overlay of shapes and their interaction with the boundaries of the canvas or paper suggest a world in constant flux, an idea further enhanced by the shifting perspectives and scales within each piece.

Bochner's methodology in the Floating World (Ukiyo-E) series involves a sophisticated use of woodcut printing, imbuing each piece with a sense of layered complexity. This approach not only pays homage to the ukiyo-e tradition but also transforms it, using modern techniques to address contemporary existential and perceptual dilemmas.

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