Large as Life: Mason Williams's 'Bus Book'

Mason Williams, Bus Book, as displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2007

First exhibited in 1967 at the Pasadena Museum of Art, Mason Williams's Bus Book is an epic – and epically humorous – work of conceptual art. Simply put, the "book" is a life-size photograph of a Greyhound bus printed on billboard stock and then folded and packaged in corrugated cardboard. Printed in an edition of 200, the book weighs 10 pounds and 7 ounces and, when fully unboxed and unfolded, clocks in at 10 feet by 36 feet. "In the 50 years since its creation," wrote Carey Dunne for Hyperallergic, "Bus [Book] has been recognized as a mammoth contribution to the art of California conceptualism." 

Reality was a big issue in the Sixties, and while some of it is dead serious and driven by philosophical inquiry, Bus is the literal poster child for the flip side of that inquiry — the uncanny surrealism of everyday life. Standing in front of Bus forty-one years after its making, one can still feel the buzz of ideas swirling around it, enhanced by the humor and energy embodied by the unlikeliness of its production, presentation and scale.

Lorraine Wild for Design Observer