A pioneer of conceptual art in the 1960s, Mel Bochner is known for work that addresses the visual representation of systems, with a particular focus on the analysis of language.

In his Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant To Be Viewed as Art(1966), the artist exhibited binders containing Xeroxed copies of drawings, scribbles, and notes by himself and fellow artists—such as Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and John Cage—on a pedestal, comically challenging the distinction between art and non-art. In the early 2000s, he began theThesaurus Paintings, a series that extended his work from the 1960s. In these paintings, the artist creates brightly colored representations of the mutability of language, depicting lists of synonyms ranging from the eloquent and articulate to the colloquial and vulgar.