Ed Ruscha

It’s been a little while since I posted on “language artists”, visual artists who incorporate elements of language into their work; see “Conceptual art” (here), with links to earlier postings. Time now to say a few words about Ed Ruscha, on the occasion of a new book of his paintings of life on the road and on the street, Road Tested, cover photo here:

From the publisher’s description:

Since his first road trip in 1956, driving from Oklahoma City to Los Angeles, Ed Ruscha has continued to muse on America as seen from the road: “I like being in the car, and seeing things from that vantage point,” he has said. “Sometimes I give myself assignments to go out on the road and explore different ideas. My books are an example of that.” Consisting of around 75 works spanning the artist’s entire career, Ed Ruscha: Road Tested includes many of the famous aforementioned artist’s books, including Twenty-Six Gasoline StationsReal Estate OpportunitiesSome Los Angeles ApartmentsThirty-Four Parking Lots and the groundbreaking artist’s book Every Building on the Sunset Strip; some of Ruscha’s most iconic paintings, such as the “Standard Stations” and the “Hollywood Signs,” as well as paintings inspired by street names and road signs; and his exploration of the topography of greater Los Angeles in paintings that depict aerial grids of the city, as well as various southern California horizons and sunsets.

Among Ruscha’s other genres are his “word paintings”, focused on slogans and sayings. For instance:

Breaking up retrospective, throwing out a vernacular double negative (“We don’t need no steenking badges”), wrily commenting on the artistic life. And then:

The word is drawn so as to evoke its referent (and Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”). And then:

Ruscha’s immersion in L.A., plus yet another play on the syntactic categories of words (in this case, conveying the energy and activity of Hollywood).

In choosing a few of Ruscha’s many word paintings, I came across this remarkable poster for a show of Ruscha’s, “Busted Glass” (with paintings of yes, bits of broken glass), by Jack Balas, whose work I didn’t know:

BUSTED GLASS is turned into USTED ASS, pointedly echoing the model’s prominent buttocks. Balas, as it turns out, explores masculinity in his artwork (in several media), so he’s right up my alley (so to speak), though I’ll have to put others of his works on my X blog, since they’re not WordPressable. (Now available here.)

3 Responses to “Ed Ruscha”

  1. More conceptual art « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Ruscha a little while back (with links to earlier postings), and now (thanks to NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday), […]

  2. The Mrowr and The Whine « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] (Munch’s work seems to be second only to the Mona Lisa in the number of parodies. Plus more indirect allusions, as in an Ed Ruscha SCREAM painting reproduced here.) […]

  3. Barbara Kruger « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] artists” (link), visual artists who incorporate elements of language into their work; see “Conceptual art” […]

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