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Ed Ruscha

On the Road: An Artist Book of the Classic Novel by Jack Kerouac

October 12–November 28, 2009
Davies Street, London

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Works Exhibited

Ed Ruscha, On the Road, 2009 An artist book of the classic novel by Jack Kerouac, 14 ⅛ × 18 ¼ × 2 ¾ inches (35.9 × 46.6 × 7.1 cm), edition of 350

Ed Ruscha, On the Road, 2009

An artist book of the classic novel by Jack Kerouac, 14 ⅛ × 18 ¼ × 2 ¾ inches (35.9 × 46.6 × 7.1 cm), edition of 350

Ed Ruscha, On the Road, 2009 An artist book of the classic novel by Jack Kerouac, 14 ⅛ × 18 ¼ × 2 ¾ inches (35.9 × 46.6 × 7.1 cm), edition of 350

Ed Ruscha, On the Road, 2009

An artist book of the classic novel by Jack Kerouac, 14 ⅛ × 18 ¼ × 2 ¾ inches (35.9 × 46.6 × 7.1 cm), edition of 350

About

The original novel was published in 1957 and it’s about a group of crazy young people who just travel back and forth across the United States. Sometimes they hitchhike and sometimes they drive cars. They steal cars and just want to be on the road the whole time. I’ve always liked that notion.
—Ed Ruscha

In 1951, Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road on his typewriter as a continuous 120-foot-long scroll, feverishly recording in twenty days his experiences during road trips in the United States and Mexico, which he began with Neil Cassady in the late 1940s. On the Road was finally published in 1957, and Kerouac was immediately acknowledged as the voice of the Beat Generation, a new group of writers, including Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, who became known for their embracing of radical free-verse style.

Ed Ruscha’s singular art has recorded the shifting emblems of American life in the form of Hollywood logos, stylized gas stations, and archetypal landscapes. His wry choice of words and indirect phrases mines the perpetual interplay between language as a physical thing and language as a transparent medium. During the 1960s, he created a series of cheaply printed photographic books as deadpan meditations on the romantic vision of the road epitomized by the Beats. His typologies of the urban environment of Los Angeles included Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963) and Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966). In Royal Road Test (1967), he brought the word and the road together in a conceptual prank by documenting himself dropping a vintage typewriter from a speeding Buick.

Over the last couple of years, Ruscha has turned his attention to On the Road, resulting in his own version of Kerouac’s Beat bible. Kerouac’s entire text appears accompanied by black-and-white photographic illustrations that Ruscha has either taken himself, commissioned from other photographers, or selected from found images to refer closely to the details and impressions that the author describes, from car parts to jazz instruments, from sandwich stacks to tire burns on a desert road.

Read more

A painting with gold frame by Louis Michel Eilshemius. Landscape with single figure.

Eilshemius and Me: An Interview with Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha tells Viet-Nu Nguyen and Leta Grzan how he first encountered Louis Michel Eilshemius’s paintings, which of the artist’s aesthetic innovations captured his imagination, and how his own work relates to and differs from that “Neglected Marvel,” Eilshemius.

The cover of the Fall 2019 Gagosian Quarterly magazine. Artwork by Nathaniel Mary Quinn

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019

The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.

The artist Ed Ruscha discussing his work.

Ed Ruscha: A Long Way from Oklahoma

In conjunction with his exhibition VERY at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, Ed Ruscha sat down with Kasper Bech Dyg to discuss his work.

Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Notre-Dame), 2019.

For Notre-Dame

An exhibition at Gagosian, Paris, is raising funds to aid in the reconstruction of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris following the devastating fire of April 2019. Gagosian directors Serena Cattaneo Adorno and Jean-Olivier Després spoke to Jennifer Knox White about the generous response of artists and others, and what the restoration of this iconic structure means across the world.

Anselm Kiefer, Maginot, 1977–93.

Veil and Vault

An exhibition at the Broad in Los Angeles prompts James Lawrence to examine how artists give shape and meaning to the passage of time, and how the passage of time shapes our evolving accounts of art.

Course of Empire

Course of Empire

Ed Ruscha sat down with Tom McCarthy and Elizabeth Kornhauser, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to discuss the nineteenth-century artist Thomas Cole, whose Course of Empire paintings inspired a series of works by Ruscha more than a century later.