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Ed Ruscha: Echograms of America
A closer look 18 Mar 2015

Ed Ruscha: Echograms of America

“I’m interested in glorifying something that we in the world would say doesn’t deserve being glorified. Something that’s forgotten, focused on as though it were some sort of sacred object.” Ed Ruscha

American artist Ed Ruscha was the subject of an important conference that took place at the Centre Pompidou the 11th and 12th of March. At the same time Gagosian gallery in Paris is exhibiting major works of this important actor of America’s contemporary art scene. If you still haven’t understood it Ed Ruscha is Paris’ artist this month.

Ed Ruscha entered the art world with his paintings in the 1960’s.

Born in Nebraska, he studied art in Los Angeles between 1956 and 1960. Impregnated with the surrealist atmosphere of LA, he paints his fascination for the city of angels.


Large Trademark, 1962

He is especially renowned for his books of photographs that collect snapshots centered on same subjects. The title of the books are literal “twenty six gasoline stations” is a selection of photographs of gasoline stations that he took during a road trip between Los Angeles and Oklahoma. Same thing for 34 parking lots. This works is the one of a collector in his inventory, almost nomenclatures of urban and architectural visions of Los Angeles. “I consider them as visual material… I have even considered them as sculptures… They have volume, density” Ed Ruscha, 1989.


Twenty six gasoline stations

Let’s go back to Ed Ruscha, the painter. His style, deliberately flat is recognized for its singular perspective and is representative of American pop art and has inspired numerous artists today. His painting is impregnated with American consumerism and visual standardization, including words and catch phrases in the pictorial composition. Photography is his tool of choice, a device that allows him to seize a momemt, a vision of this city that inspires him so much.

 PRETTY EYES, ELECTRIC BILLS 1976 by Edward Ruscha born 1937

Pretty Eyes and Electric Bills, 1976

« I started taking pictures when I was at school, with no serious intentions. I liked the idea of capturing what is right here right now, like an immediate reality that could be then evaluated and integrated to a painting” Ed Ruscha

His interest for graphics, illustration and comics is evident in his work where he integrates words in the canvas like cartoon bubbles.


Another Hollywood dream bubble popped, 1976

 “All my artistic response comes from American things, and I guess I’ve always had a weakness for heroic imagery.” Ed Ruscha

His is inspired by photographers like Robert Frank and Eugène Atget but also Walker Evans. He is avery moved by the work of Rauschenberg and his assemblages of materials and  by Ed Kienholz, an artist who also uses process of reappropriation of everyday objects.


Ice at nice price, 2009

If painting is the main artistic expression used by Ruscha, photography would be the conducting wire and foundation of his creation, like a bridge between his books and paintings. The use of camera enables his collectors approach, an almost clinical classification of his subjects. Even so, Ed Ruscha has an aura of mystery in his arrangements where depth is found on the surface.


9 swimming pools, 1968


I plead insanity because I’m just crazy about that little girl, 1976

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