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Ed Ruscha

November 17, 2012–January 12, 2013
West 24th Street, New York

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Installation video

Installation view Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view  Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Rob McKeever

Works Exhibited

Ed Ruscha, Gilded, Marbled and Foibled, 2011–12 Acrylic on canvas, 48 × 84 inches (121.9 × 213.4 cm)© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Gilded, Marbled and Foibled, 2011–12

Acrylic on canvas, 48 × 84 inches (121.9 × 213.4 cm)
© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Fanned Book, 2012 Acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 64 ⅛ × 71 ⅛ × 1 ⅝ inches (162.9 × 180.7 × 4.1 cm)© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Fanned Book, 2012

Acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 64 ⅛ × 71 ⅛ × 1 ⅝ inches (162.9 × 180.7 × 4.1 cm)
© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Old Book with Wormholes, 2012 Acrylic on canvas, 72 × 124 inches (182.9 × 315 cm)© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Old Book with Wormholes, 2012

Acrylic on canvas, 72 × 124 inches (182.9 × 315 cm)
© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Old Book Today, 2011–12 Acrylic on canvas, 72 × 124 inches (182.9 × 315 cm)© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Old Book Today, 2011–12

Acrylic on canvas, 72 × 124 inches (182.9 × 315 cm)
© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, History Book Laying on a Table, 2012 Acrylic on canvas, 26 ⅛ × 48 inches (66.4 × 121.9 cm)© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, History Book Laying on a Table, 2012

Acrylic on canvas, 26 ⅛ × 48 inches (66.4 × 121.9 cm)
© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Stock Market Technique, Numbers 1 & 2, 2002 Acrylic on raw linen with book, 30 ⅞ × 30 ⅜ inches (78.4 × 77.2 cm)© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Stock Market Technique, Numbers 1 & 2, 2002

Acrylic on raw linen with book, 30 ⅞ × 30 ⅜ inches (78.4 × 77.2 cm)
© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, THE END, 1992 Oil on book cover, 10 ¾ × 7 ¼ × 1 ¾ inches (27.3 × 18.4 × 4.4 cm)© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, THE END, 1992

Oil on book cover, 10 ¾ × 7 ¼ × 1 ¾ inches (27.3 × 18.4 × 4.4 cm)
© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, A, B, C, 1985–87 Acrylic on canvas, in 3 parts, each: 66 ¼ × 137 ¼ inches (168.3 × 348.6 cm)© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, A, B, C, 1985–87

Acrylic on canvas, in 3 parts, each: 66 ¼ × 137 ¼ inches (168.3 × 348.6 cm)
© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, A, B, C, 1985–87 (detail) Acrylic on canvas, in 3 parts, each: 66 ¼ × 137 ¼ inches (168.3 × 348.6 cm)© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, A, B, C, 1985–87 (detail)

Acrylic on canvas, in 3 parts, each: 66 ¼ × 137 ¼ inches (168.3 × 348.6 cm)
© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Yardstick (left), Yardstick (right), 1987 Acrylic on canvas, in 2 parts, each: 66 × 137 inches (167.6 × 348 cm)© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Yardstick (left), Yardstick (right), 1987

Acrylic on canvas, in 2 parts, each: 66 × 137 inches (167.6 × 348 cm)
© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Yardsick (left), Yardstick (right), 1987 (detail) Acrylic on canvas, in 2 parts, each: 66 × 137 inches (167.6 × 348 cm)© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Yardsick (left), Yardstick (right), 1987 (detail)

Acrylic on canvas, in 2 parts, each: 66 × 137 inches (167.6 × 348 cm)
© Ed Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

About

Sometimes I wonder whether I am painting pictures of words or whether I’m painting pictures with words.
—Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha’s oeuvre has never been confined to established categories of style or media; for instance, books, drawings, prints, photography, and painting are used in parallel, together with materials as unconventional as gunpowder, fruit juice, bleach, coffee, and syrup. But throughout his restrained yet daring experimentation, writing as act and subject, in print form or painted on canvas, has remained a constant inspiration for his iconic images of the American vernacular. His singular, sometimes oblique use of words allows for the exploration of the role of signifiers in language and thought, while his range of artistic means allows the act of reading to be literally manipulated as a process by which to generate meaning.

Following Reading Ed Ruscha at Kunsthaus Bregenz, which fully explored Ruscha’s obsession with books and language from the outset of his career, this exhibition focuses on his richly diverse investigations of the book as a subject, as a support for making pictures, or as an actual object. It includes acrylic and oil paintings, on stretched, unstretched, and shaped canvases, drawings on paper, watercolors on vellum, photographs, and book works.

In the modestly scaled painting History Book Laying on a Table (2012), the prone spine of the reference book demarcates two contrasting zones of light and dark, a schematic depiction of the Manichean forces at work in the march of time. The large-scale painting Gilded, Marbled and Foibled (2011–12)—the title a wry nod to early Conceptual art instruction—combines the exquisite detail of an illuminated manuscript with the hallucinatory patterns of marbled paper. Material references to traditional bookmaking are evident in the small-scale Open Book series (2002–05), where blank double pages are weightlessly painted on untreated linen, and in the circular vellum paintings with their obtuse, gilded thoughts. The three monumental canvases that form the Old Book cycle present a vanitas in which the ravages of time appear in the painted exactitude of fraying bindings, mold spots, and worm holes.

Various bookworks provide corollaries to the paintings. A strategy for a series of small abstract paintings from 1994–95, in which insidious threats are rendered in paint or bleach as blank widths of contrasting color like Morse communication, resurfaces a decade later in book covers, where the oppositional actions of enunciation and erasure meet. In another book series, Ruscha has again used bleach to leach a single large initial on the colored linen covers of found books, such as a gothic M on the cover of Imaginary Gardens, or L L on two matching tomes of Shakespeare plays, by which they become Twins (diptych) in form if not content. In another, monochrome books mimic Minimalist objects, sporting weighty, generic titles such as Atlas or Bible.