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.
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.
Coinciding with Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting at the Hayward Gallery in London, the Gagosian exhibition presents selected illustrated spreads from this special version of On the Road, along with a bound copy of the limited-edition book.
On the Road is published by Gagosian and Steidl. The leather-bound book comprises 228 pages, signed and numbered by the artist in an edition of 350 and presented in a slipcase.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Eilshemius & Me
June 18–August 2, 2019
Davies Street, London
Custom-Built Intrigue: Drawings 1974–1984
May 6–June 30, 2017
980 Madison Avenue, New York
Ed Ruscha | Jonas Wood
Notepads, Holograms and Books
March 30–June 17, 2017
Extremes and In-betweens
October 5–December 17, 2016
Grosvenor Hill, London