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Ed Ruscha

Custom-Built Intrigue: Drawings 1974–1984

May 6–June 30, 2017
980 Madison Avenue, New York

Installation video

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

Works Exhibited

Ed Ruscha, Custom-Built Intrigue, 1981 Pastel on paper, 23 × 29 inches (58.4 × 73.7 cm)© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Custom-Built Intrigue, 1981

Pastel on paper, 23 × 29 inches (58.4 × 73.7 cm)
© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Wazza Problm?, 1981 Pastel on paper, 23 × 29 inches (58.4 × 73.7 cm)© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Wazza Problm?, 1981

Pastel on paper, 23 × 29 inches (58.4 × 73.7 cm)
© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Honey, I Twisted Through More Damn Traffic Today, 1977 Pastel on paper, 22 ⅝ × 28 ⅝ inches (57.5 × 72.7 cm)© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Honey, I Twisted Through More Damn Traffic Today, 1977

Pastel on paper, 22 ⅝ × 28 ⅝ inches (57.5 × 72.7 cm)
© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Jaggy Daggers, 1977 Pastel on paper, 22 ⅛ × 29 ⅛ inches (56.2 × 74 cm)© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Jaggy Daggers, 1977

Pastel on paper, 22 ⅛ × 29 ⅛ inches (56.2 × 74 cm)
© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Pr-Pr-Process Food, 1976 Pastel on paper, 23 ⅛ × 29 ⅛ inches (58.7 × 74 cm)© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Pr-Pr-Process Food, 1976

Pastel on paper, 23 ⅛ × 29 ⅛ inches (58.7 × 74 cm)
© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, He Enjoys the Co. of Women, 1976 Pastel on paper, 22 ½ × 28 ½ inches (57.2 × 72.4 cm)© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, He Enjoys the Co. of Women, 1976

Pastel on paper, 22 ½ × 28 ½ inches (57.2 × 72.4 cm)
© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Nice Hot Vegetables, 1976 Pastel on paper, 22 ¾ × 28 ¾ inches (57.8 × 73 cm)© Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Nice Hot Vegetables, 1976

Pastel on paper, 22 ¾ × 28 ¾ inches (57.8 × 73 cm)
© Ed Ruscha

About

Gagosian is pleased to present Custom-Built Intrigue: Drawings 1974–1984, an exhibition of key text drawings by Ed Ruscha. Many of these historical gems have been brought together thanks to generous loans from private and institutional collections.

Throughout decades of formal experimentation, Ruscha has explored the role of language in painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, and bookmaking through a singular, sometimes oblique use of words. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, he honed his distinctive drawing practice to create some of the most compelling works of his career. The text drawings from this period, exquisitely rendered in pastel, dry pigment, and various edible substances, from spinach to carrot juice, bridge the spirited Pop art for which Ruscha first gained renown with the cerebral Conceptualism to which his work was essential.

The exhibition features a decade of drawings (1974–1984) towards the end of which Ruscha reintroduces the element of imagery. With the inclusion of one work on paper from 1986, we can see a clear shift to another stage of his drawing practice.

Drawing has long been considered the most direct process by which thought is transferred into image, but Ruscha almost completely conceptualizes his images prior to making them. Using a reverse-stenciling graphic technique, Ruscha cuts out stencils in the shape of letters and places them on paper. He then applies pigment around the covered area with unconventional tools, such as cotton puffs and Q-tips, to create his typography utilizing negative space rather than line. Selectively trawling words and phrases from the American vernacular with little regard to their prescribed meaning or intention, Ruscha subverts the symbolic system of language altogether. Words and phrases severed from specific time, location, or context resonate with just as much vitality and pathos as when the drawings were created.

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From the Quarterly