This is the first retrospective to focus exclusively on the paintings of the Los Angeles-based artist Ed Ruscha, one of the most influential and pioneering American artists of the past 50 years.
Alternately categorised as a Pop artist (and the West Coast’s answer to Andy Warhol), a conceptualist, a realist and a latter-day surrealist, Ruscha defies easy categorisation.
Exploring our relationship to words and images, Ruscha’s paintings have embraced language as a critical subject, probing both its power and ambiguity.
At the same time, his paintings have also recorded the shifting emblems of American life in the form of classic Hollywood logos, stylized gas stations and suburban landscapes. Often echoing the size of Cinemascope movie screens and billboards, these works constitute a shrewd and incisive portrait of American culture.
This richly illustrated catalogue contains essays by Ralph Rugoff, James Ellroy, Alexandra Schwartz and Ulrich Wilmes. It also features a text by the Hollywood novelist Bruce Wagner, an interview with the artist by Kristine McKenna, an illustrated chronology and an exhibition history and bibliography.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting at Hayward Gallery, London, 14 October 2009 – 10 January 2010.