Ed Ruscha's Ghostly Standard
A Mixografia Update to the Artist's Iconic Structure
Few artists can so swiftly and coolly transform ordinary features of the landscape into monumental symbols of modern America. Latching onto the gas station as a hallmark of westward mobility, Ruscha has elevated the seemingly mundane, overlooked structures into monuments with his sparse, geometric style of image-making. Somehow managing to avert romanticizing his subject matter, Ruscha forged his own orignal blend of the conceptual and the Pop.
Ruscha first began photographing gas stations in the late 1950s and early 1960s as he drove Route 66 from his family home in Oklahoma City to Los Angeles. These images would later fill the pages of Ruscha’s first artist book, Twenty Six Gasoline Stations, published in 1963. Among the photographs taken, it was his snapshot of a Standard gas station in Amarillo, Texas, that made the greatest impact. It featured an angular composition that appeared more dramatic than any other he drove past, and between 1966 and 2011, Ruscha would recreate the Standard Station image in different mediums.
Ruscha’s 2011 Ghost Station is the artist’s most recent iteration of the Standard Station motif. Here, we are presented with a colorless Mixografia echo of what came before it. The diagonal line, one of Ruscha’s formal trademarks, divides the image, offering two ways of rendering perspective. The embossed print strips the image to its most basic outline, underscoring Ruscha's ability to continuously find new meaning from one of his career's most iconic touchstones.