Mel Bochner Talks Tough

Edition Review

  • Mel Bochner, Talk is Cheap (2012)

  • Etching and aquatint, 56.5 x 76.8 cm. Edition of 20.. Printed and published by Two Palms Press, New York, NY. $3600.
Mel Bochner, Talk is Cheap (2012).

Mel Bochner, Talk is Cheap (2012).

Amidst the post-Hurricane Sandy melée of public outcry and press conferences, Mel Bochner’s modestly sized etching with aquatint, Talk is Cheap (2012) came to seem topical and singularly apropos. Bochner has been working with Two Palms Press for over a decade, producing prints whose subject matter is often literary. Many of these invoke clever word games, others traffic in popular phrases. This piece is one of the latter and is among the more intentionally boorish of his output. It is part of a group of three similarly angrily tough-talking images (the others are I’ve Had It Up To Here and Everybody Is Full of Shit, at the same size, in the same medium and with the same edition size). Executed in blue ink that has run down the page in places, the print has a casual insouciance that is appealing and provocative. The phrase “Talk is Cheap” is written in letters that call to mind the greasy finger writing one finds on dirty windows. It looks as if someone made an unsuccessful attempt to wipe the words clean, leaving a smear beneath the text. The work resonates powerfully with the crude signage and curt messages of frustrated people communicating their grief.

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