Ed Ruscha

August 22, 2011

Born in Omaha, Nebraska and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, painter, photographer, and printmaker Ed Ruscha seeks to combine the Los Angeles landscape with a deadpan vocabulary to explore our relationship with mass media. Upon graduating from high school, Ruscha drove to Los Angeles with the intention of becoming a commercial artist. He enrolled in the Chouinard Art Institute where he begins painting under the direction of Robert Irwin and Emerson Woelffer, two artists Ruscha has named as influences. While apprenticing with Saul Marks at Plantin Press in 1958, he developed a love for hand setting type and “a respect for pages,” which came to fruition with his photo books Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963) and Various Small Fires (1964). In 1961, Ruscha had left his commercial advertising job to fully devote himself to painting, and only a year later, he was included in the show “New Painting of Common Objects,” with fellow Pop artists Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Wayne Thiebaud, and Joe Goode at the Pasadena Art Museum.

Ruscha’s work with printmaking intensified in the late 60s as he became intensely interested in the actual process. He knew form the beginning of his career that the printmaking process lent itself to a completely different set of rules than creating works on canvas. In 1971, he reused his iconic Hollywood image from 1968, but instead of traditional printer’s ink, he used actual fruit juice from a brand called Metrecal. He later used non-traditional materials such as caviar and Pepto-Bismol. He continued to experiment with the boundaries of genre, evidenced by Vowel #58 U (1996), a painting on the cover of his 1964 book, Various Small Fires. Throughout the next three decades until the present, Ruscha achieved countless solo shows, major international exhibitions, and retrospectives, including “Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting,” which opened at the Hayward Gallery in London in 2009 and later traveled to Munich and Stockholm.

“Chronology.” Edward Ruscha Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2012.


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