LAMA BLOG

Just in: Ed Ruscha’s ‘Zip Rooster’

December 13, 2016

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) is pleased to present a painting by Ed Ruscha, one of the most critically acclaimed artists working today, in our March 5, 2017 Modern Art & Design Auction.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Ed Ruscha, Zip Rooster, 1994
March 5, 2017 Modern Art & Design Auction

Most often characterized as a Pop artist, Ruscha is famed for his deadpan depiction of subjects from popular culture. At 18, Ruscha drove across the country from his hometown in Oklahoma to attend the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. Along the way, he encountered many of the subjects that would later dominate his oeuvre: billboards, long stretches of road, gas stations and other symbols of Americana. Once Ruscha arrived in California, he trained as a commercial artist where he honed his unique aesthetic, combining stark delineation, graphic typography and bold imagery.

This acrylic on linen painting was created in 1994 and depicts a rooster’s silhouette, captured in profile, which takes up most of the picture plane. The rooster is a recurring motif in Ruscha’s work and has been featured in his paintings and prints since the 1970s. Ruscha is famed for appropriating the cultural icons of national mythology and this rustic symbol of the American West evokes the valorization of agricultural life as well as the artist’s own origins in the rural mid-west. By excluding his characteristic text, Ruscha tests our expectations of his work. Here, the image alone is haunting and evocative enough that the viewer is invited to formulate their own linguistic response to the painting.

Ruscha has created numerous silhouette paintings in which the mysterious, looming shadows of houses, boats and animals can be seen against some unknown horizon. In this case, the rooster’s form floats against a flat space, entirely depthless save for the graded tones which lighten as they reach the rooster’s clawed feet. While the flat, stylized form of Zip Rooster is typical of the artist’s aesthetic, its dusky hues and soft focus effect, achieved by using an airbrush, is quite distinct from the graphic, hard edges of his earlier paintings. This is yet another example of Ruscha’s formal experiments in which he continually pushed the boundaries of painting, for instance incorporating unconventional materials like egg yolk and blackberry juice. Zip Rooster epitomizes Ruscha’s willingness to challenge the conventions of his chosen medium, a quality which differentiates him from many of his peers.

This is the first time to the market for this painting and is an excellent chance to acquire a major work by one of America’s leading artists. Ruscha’s work features in several important collections around the world including Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan; Tate, London, Museum of Modern Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles.

Lot information:

Ed Ruscha
Zip Rooster
1994
Acrylic on linen
Signed, titled, and dated verso
Linen: 12” x 15”; Frame: 13.25” x 16.25”
Estimate: $150,000-200,000
March 5, 2017 Modern Art & Design Auction

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