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Ed Ruscha

Books & Co.

March 5–April 27, 2013
980 Madison Avenue, New York

Installation video

Installation video

Installation view Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Photo: Rob McKeever

Works Exhibited

Ed Ruscha, Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1970 Lithograph on white Arches paper with torn and deckle edges, 16 × 20 inches (40.6 × 50.8 cm), edition of 30© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1970

Lithograph on white Arches paper with torn and deckle edges, 16 × 20 inches (40.6 × 50.8 cm), edition of 30
© Ed Ruscha

About

I want to be the Henry Ford of book making.
—Ed Ruscha

Gagosian is pleased to present an exhibition of Ed Ruscha’s legendary artist’s books together with books and works of art by more than a hundred contemporary artists that respond directly and diversely to Ruscha’s original project. Organized by Bob Monk, Ed Ruscha Books & Co. has been drawn from private collections, including Ruscha’s own. Most of the books are installed so that viewers can interact with them and browse their pages.

Inspired by the unassuming books that he found on street stalls during a trip to Europe, in 1962 Ruscha published his first artist’s book, Twentysix Gasoline Stations, under his own imprint, National Excelsior Press. A slim, cheaply produced volume, then priced at $3.50, Twentysix Gasoline Stations did exactly what its title suggests, reproducing twenty-six photographs of gasoline stations next to captions indicating their brand and location. All of the stations were on Route 66, the road mythologized by the eponymous TV series and in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Ruscha’s book traveled more or less west to east, from the first service station in Los Angeles, where he moved as a young man, back to Oklahoma City, where he grew up.

Initially, the book received a poor reception, rejected by the Library of Congress for its “unorthodox form and supposed lack of information.” However, during the ’60s it acquired cult status, and by the ’80s it was hailed as one of the first truly modern artist’s books. Ruscha followed up Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962) with a succession of kindred publications, including Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965), Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass (1968), and Real Estate Opportunities (1970), all of which combined the literalness of early California Ppop art with a deadpan photographic aesthetic informed by Minimalist sequence and seriality.

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From the Quarterly