We proudly present the work of Ed Ruscha, one of the most important artists of the 20th century. With his cool, detached gaze over the American landscape and its self-made myths, Ruscha has created iconic works that exploit the provocative banality of text and image and the play between the two.
I’m interested in glorifying something that we in the world would say doesn’t deserve being glorified. Something that’s forgotten, focused on as though it were some sort of sacred object.
5 Things to Know About Ed Ruscha
Upon moving to Los Angeles in 1956, Ruscha edited the art journal Orb, designed layouts for an advertising agency and painted signs before becoming serious about making art. He once remarked that he was "born to watch paint dry."
His work was included in the seminal 1962 New Paintings of Common Objects exhibition curated by Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum, generally considered the first show of Pop art.
In the 1960s, he designed layouts for Artforum under the pseudonym 'Eddie Russia'.
Ruscha claims that he doesn't watch television, has never been to Starbucks or Disneyland and that he doesn't use social media, which he likens to "joining Scientology."
He lives and works in a house he had built by Frank Gehry in the remote California desert.
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I like the idea of a word becoming a picture, almost leaving its body, then coming back and becoming a word again.
I have no social agenda with my work. I'm deadpan about it. I'm just kind of viewing and responding.
Ed Ruscha b. 1937
Ed Ruscha is known for his detached, cool gaze over the American landscape, its vernacular and built environments. He is a leading voice in contemporary art, consistently subverting the aesthetic and conceptual conventions of photography and painting, as well as the mythic narratives surrounding American culture.
Ed Ruscha was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1937 and grew up in Oklahoma City. He moved to Los Angeles in 1956 to attend what is now the California Institute of the Arts. Upon graduating in 1960, Ruscha began working in commercial advertising, putting him in contact with relationships between image and text and the language of consumerism and popular culture. Ruscha’s early drawings and paintings bucked against the prevailing trend of abstract expressionism, depicting wry, irreverent takes on the banality of the urban landscape. In 1962, Ruscha was included in New Painting of Common Objects at the Pasadena Art Museum, a show considered the first museum exhibition of Pop Art that included works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Wayne Thiebaud.
In 1963, the year Ruscha’s now-famous artist book Twentysix Gasoline Stations was published, he received his first solo show at Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. Ruscha made sixteen artist books in the 1960s and 1970s, most of them comprised of photography taken in an antagonistically plain, documentary style, covering subjects such as swimming pools, parking lots and Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966). In his photography and painting, Ruscha does not attempt to idealize his subjects, but rather stares deadpan at the ordinary objects and spaces that exist on the periphery of the experience of our surroundings. Ruscha is also celebrated for his approach to language, which is often amusing, incongruous and common, exploring the multiplicity of words and turning them into solid objects to be contemplated and played with.
Ruscha’s first major retrospective was in 1982 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The cover of the catalog featured a drawing he had made in 1979, with the text: “I don’t want no retro spective.” Ruscha continues to reside in his adopted city of Los Angeles, actively creating work that speaks to our rapidly changing contemporary landscape, the way we use language and our conception of the American ethos.