Gagosian is pleased to present Notepads, Holograms and Books, an exhibition of works by Ed Ruscha and Jonas Wood, two artists who explore the nature of the real and the represented, language and image, writing and typography. The exhibition includes paintings, holograms, and hand-modified books by Ruscha, and new paintings by Wood.
In Ruscha’s work, the traditions and techniques of graphic design and the restrained artistry of typesetting serve as vehicles for the commutation between picture and word, sign and signifier. He superimposes text and image across media: from billboards to books, from screens to paintings and holograms. With the reverence and technical mastery of a trompe l’oeil painting, Fanned Book (2012) depicts the turning pages of a bound volume with marbled endpapers. Elsewhere, Ruscha’s text paintings of phrases such as “OH NO” migrate to the spines and fore edges of actual books. Small works on canvas show granular, individual typeset alphabetic letters—examining the form, as much as the emblematic function, of the phoneme—and a hologram proclaims “THE END” in stylized letters on what appears to be vellum, making light projection resemble an archaic art. Through a shifting exchange of abstraction and figuration, the book in all its forms pervades Ruscha’s investigations of the nature of language and the distribution of information.
For Wood, shifts in scale push the limits of traditional painting genres. The still life, a recurring theme in his work, has been the subject of abstracted enlargement before. In public commissions, he has covered the facades of buildings with vivid paintings of potted plants, the overlapping leaves, shelves, and cylindrical vases taking on the grandeur of a rainforest or cityscape. In Notepads, Holograms and Books, logotyped and trademarked desk notepads are enlarged to become wall-covering canvases, which act as backdrops for paintings. Typographic emblems, such as “Gagosian Gallery” and “Maritime Hotel,” are silk-screened onto canvas, mimicking the original format of the signature-branded notepads. The impulse for these works originates in Wood’s habit of drawing on hotel and office stationery. Transposed from small drawings to large-scale compositions, the subjects of the paintings range from foliage and drawings his child made to abstract jottings that record running poker debts. The works thus straddle private and commercial zones through disorienting compressions of space and a deep attunement to patterning and color. Wood’s visual language finds a new iteration, playing between the portable and the monumental, between traditions of print and of paint, between inventions of his own and oblique responses to Ruscha’s peerless precedents.
Behind the Art
Jonas Wood in Hong Kong
Join Jonas Wood on a virtual tour through the creation of his first solo exhibition in Hong Kong. Wood narrates the genesis and development of the new paintings, drawings, and wallpaper.
Jacoba Urist profiles the legendary collector.
The Art History of Presidential Campaign Posters
Against the backdrop of the 2020 US presidential election, historian Hal Wert takes us through the artistic and political evolution of American campaign posters, from their origin in 1844 to the present. In an interview with Quarterly editor Gillian Jakab, Wert highlights an array of landmark posters and the artists who made them.
“Things Fall Apart”: Ed Ruscha’s Swiped Words
Lisa Turvey examines the range of effects conveyed by the blurred phrases in recent drawings by the artist, detailing the ways these words in motion evoke the experience of the current moment.
Gwen Allen recounts her discovery of cutting-edge artists’ magazines from the 1960s and 1970s and explores the roots and implications of these singular publications.
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 of this “Neglected Marvel.”
September 16–22, 2020
At the start of his artistic career, Ed Ruscha called himself an “abstract artist . . . who deals with subject matter.” Abandoning academic connotations that came to be associated with Abstract Expressionism, he looked instead to tropes of advertising and brought words—as form, symbol, and material—to the forefront of painting. Working in diverse media with humor and wit, he oscillates between sign and substance, locating the sublime in landscapes both natural and artificial. Ruscha’s formal experimentations and clever use of the American vernacular have evolved in form and meaning as technology alters the essence of human communication.
Photo: Kate Simon
May 28–June 30, 2020
Gagosian is pleased to present recent paintings by Ed Ruscha online for galleryplatform.la. Fifty years ago, Ruscha purchased a set of vellum drum skins from a leather shop in Los Angeles. He has continued to collect these vintage objects, and since 2011 he has used them as canvases for the works on view in his solo exhibition Drum Skins at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin.
Installation view, Ed Ruscha: Drum Skins, Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, January 11–October 4, 2020. Artwork © Ed Ruscha