Bochner’s art illustrates philosophical ideas.

“Asterisk Branch” (detail) by Mel Bochner, from the portfolio “Counting Alternatives: The Wittgenstein Illustrations.” Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.

On the October 2 Bill Newman Show, Mount Holyoke College Professor of Philosophy Thomas Wartenberg helped listeners understand the interplay between philosophy and illustration.

Wartenberg curated the current exhibition of Mel Bochner’s work in the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. Bochner was one of the founders of the conceptual art movement in the 1960s, and the MHC exhibition focuses on Bochner’s illustrations for philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s book On Certainty.

“Philosophy isn’t like a novel where you have people, incidents, and characters that you can illustrate by having people climbing a mountain or whatever,” Wartenberg said. “These are abstract ideas. So the idea of illustrating a philosophy book is unusual to say the least.”

Bochner used sequences of numbers to illustrate Wittgenstein’s ideas about knowledge and certainty. Wartenberg says he created the exhibition to “explain how we can understand these very abstract drawings and prints as ways of developing Wittgenstein’s ideas visually.”

• Related event: Artist Mel Bochner will visit Mount Holyoke for an October 6 public conversation with Wartenberg at 5:30 pm in the Art Building’s Gamble Auditorium.

• Listen to the Bill Newman Show. The interview with Wartenberg begins at the 44:10 mark.

Learn more about art at MHC. Start here.