I want to be the Henry Ford of book making.
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.
As the prolific and playful examples in the exhibition attest, Ruscha’s artist’s books have proved to be deeply influential, beginning with Bruce Nauman’s Burning Small Fires (1968), for which Nauman burned Ruscha’s Various Small Fires and Milk (1964) and photographed the process. More than forty years later, photographer Charles Johnstone relocated Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations in Cuba, producing the portfolio Twentysix Havana Gasoline Stations (2008). The most recent homage is One Swimming Pool (2013) by Dutch artist Elisabeth Tonnard, who re-photographed one of the photographs from Ruscha’s Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass (1968) and enlarged it to the size of a small swimming pool, consisting of 3,164 pages the same size as the pages in Ruscha’s original book. The pages of this “pool on a shelf” can be detached to create a life-size installation. Between these early and recent examples are a wealth of responses to Ruscha’s ideas by artists from all over the world, gathered here in this celebratory exhibition.
Featuring books and works by ABC Artists’ Books Cooperative, Noriko Ambe, Edgar Arceneaux, Eric Baskauskas, Luke Batten / Jonathan Sadler (New Catalogue), Erik Benjamins, Victoria Bianchetti, Doro Boehme, Jeff Brouws, Denise Scott Brown, Wendy Burton, Stephen Bush, Corinne Carlson, Dan Colen, Julie Cook, Jennifer Dalton, Bill Daniel, Claudia de la Torre, Joshua Deaner, Jen DeNike, Eric Doeringer, Stan Douglas, Harlan Erskine, Frank Eye, Kota Ezawa, Robbert Flick, Jan Freuchen, Jochen Friedrich, Thomas Galler, Anne-Valérie Gasc, Steve Giasson, Simon Goode, Oliver Griffin, Daniel S. Guy, Dejan Habicht, Marcella Hackbardt, Sebastian Hackenschmidt, Karen Henderson, Mishka Henner, Kai-Olaf Hesse, Taro Hirano, Marla Hlady, Dominik Hruza, Steven Izenour, Sveinn Fannar Jóhannsson, Taly and Russ Johnson, Charles Johnstone, Rinata Kajumova, Henning Kappenberg, Jean Keller, Shohachi Kimura, Julia Kjelgaard, Joachim Koester, Sowon Kwon, Tanja Lažetic, Gabriel Lester, Jonathan Lewis, Jochen Manz, Michael Maranda, Scott McCarney, Mark McEvoy, Jerry McMillan, Daniel Mellis, Martin Möll, Dan Monick, Jonathan Monk, Simon Morris, Audun Mortensen, Brian Murphy, Toby Mussman, Maurizio Nannucci, Bruce Nauman, John O’Brian, Stefan Oláh, Performance Re-Enactment Society, Michalis Pichler, Tadej Pogačar, Susan Porteous, James Prez, Clara Prioux, Robert Pufleb, Joseph Putrock, Jon Rafman, Achim Riechers, David John Russ, Mark Ruwedel, Tom Sachs, Joachim Schmid, Andreas Schmidt, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, David Schoerner, David Schulz, Yann Sérandour, Travis Shaffer, Gordon Simpson, Paul Soulellis, Tom Sowden, Kim Stringfellow, Derek Stroup, Derek Sullivan, Yoshikazu Suzuki, Chris Svensson, Eric Tabuchi, Elisabeth Tonnard, John Tremblay, Marc Valesella, Wil Van Iersel, Louisa Van Leer, Robert Venturi, Reinhard Voigt, Alex Von Bergen, Emily Wasserman, John Waters, Henry Wessel, Keith Wilson, Charles Woodard, Theo Wujcik, Mark Wyse, and Hermann Zschiegner.
Ed Ruscha Books & Co. will coincide with the publication of MIT Press’s Various Small Books: Referencing Small Books by Ed Ruscha (2013), which documents ninety-one of the books inspired by Ruscha’s own, reproducing covers and sample layouts from each, along with a detailed description. Various Small Books… also includes selections from Ruscha’s books and an appendix listing most of the known Ruscha book tributes.
On March 6, Ed Ruscha will appear in conversation with Paul Holdengräber at the New York Public Library.
From the Quarterly
Ed Ruscha and Joanne Northrup
Ed Ruscha sat down with JoAnne Northrup of the Nevada Museum of Art to discuss the exhibition Unsettled, which the two co-curated.
Art and Food
Mary Ann Caws and Charles Stuckey discuss the presence of food and the dining table in the history of modern art.
Diana Widmaier Picasso, curator of the exhibition Desire, reflects on the history of eroticism in art.
Ed Ruscha’s Burning Gas Station (1965–66) was a game changer. Text by Larry Gagosian.
Ed Ruscha: On the Highline
The High Line Art Program’s Cecilia Alemani discusses Ed Ruscha’s mural.
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
Books & Co.
July 28–September 9, 2016