Just In: A Ghostly Standard
“There are things that I’m constantly looking at that I feel should be elevated to greater status, almost to philosophical status or to a religious status. That’s why taking things out of context is a useful tool to an artist. It’s the concept of taking something that’s not subject matter and making it subject matter.” -Ed Ruscha
There are few artists who can transform something as ordinary and familiar as a gas station into a symbol of the American landscape. Ed Ruscha echoed this hallmark of the Western terrain and elevated these seemingly mundane, overlooked structures into his art. Oscillating between Pop art, Conceptual Art and Photography, the quintessential Los Angeles artist went beyond highlighting the universal ordinary by placing the ordinary in a context that could be viewed in relation to its geographically fundamental backdrop. Ruscha was not interested in romanticizing his subjects; it was the concept that intrigued him more than the representation.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Ruscha began photographing the gas stations he passed on Route 66 while driving from his family home in Oklahoma City to Los Angeles. These photographs would later fill the pages of Ruscha’s groundbreaking book Twenty Six Gasoline Stations in 1963. Ruscha captured these pillars of everyday post-war life, emphasising what often exists on our periphery and monumentalizing the banality of these humble elements of our environment. Among the photographs taken, it was his snapshot of a Standard gas station that made the greatest impact. Taken in Amarillo, Texas, this particular station featured an angular composition that appeared more dramatic than any of the others he drove past. Between 1966 and 2011, Ruscha would return to this photograph many times, recreating the Standard Station image in different mediums. This image would become a signature work of the Pop art movement and Ruscha’s most iconic image.
Ruscha’s Ghost Station, 2011, is the artist’s most recent iteration of the Standard Station motif. Here we are presented with a colorless echo of what came before it; the embossed picture is outlined to expose a now familiar image and reaffirms the mutable status of what has become a touchstone for Ruscha for nearly five decades. The diagonal line, one of Ruscha’s formal trademarks, divides the image, offering two ways of rendering perspective. We are proud to present this hallmark of the American vernacular in our July 30 – August 9, 2020 Timed Online Only Modern Art & Design Auction.
Ed Ruscha “About” https://gagosian.com/artists/ed-ruscha/
Ed Ruscha And the Standard Gas Station https://unframed.lacma.org/2012/09/20/ed-ruscha-and-the-standard-gas-station
Ed Ruscha Collection Online https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/ed-ruscha
Mixografia on handmade paper
#85 of 85
Printed and published by Mixografia, Los Angeles
Signed and dated in graphite lower right margin beneath image; edition lower left
Image: 20.75″ x 39.75″; Sheet: 27.25″ x 46″; Frame: 37.625″ x 55.5″
July 2020 Modern Art & Design Timed Online Only Auction