Ed Ruscha was born in a flyover state (Nebraska) at a time when cross-country travel was done in automobiles and the Southwest was not yet interconnected by superhighways. When he moved to LA, in 1956, he’d often drive the 1,000 miles between there and Oklahoma City in a 1950 Ford on the old Route 66. Along the way, he was mesmerized by the repetition of Standard Oil filling stations, so much so that they would become his Pop symbol of America, as Coca-Cola bottles did for Warhol. Burning Gas Station (1965–66) is one of my favorites from this series by Ruscha because it glorifies the homecoming of that journey and introduces many of the artist’s hallmarks, like the strong use of perspectival diagonals, expressed in the gas station’s canopy, and the flames that engulf it all. (Another of Ruscha’s iconic works, The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire, was created at the same time.) The definite touch of irony in a gas station in flames in the desert has always reminded me of Warhol’s Disaster paintings from the same period. Ruscha doubles down on calamity: the terror of a raging fire being fueled by a gas station. It’s deadpan humor with a dose of menace.
February 23, 2017
Here is Ed Ruscha’s Burning Gas Station (1965–66). Text by Larry Gagosian.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.
Ed Ruscha: A Long Way from Oklahoma
In conjunction with his exhibition VERY at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, Ed Ruscha sat down with Kasper Bech Dyg to discuss his work.
An exhibition at Gagosian, Paris, is raising funds to aid in the reconstruction of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris following the devastating fire of April 2019. Gagosian directors Serena Cattaneo Adorno and Jean-Olivier Després spoke to Jennifer Knox White about the generous response of artists and others, and what the restoration of this iconic structure means across the world.
Veil and Vault
An exhibition at the Broad in Los Angeles prompts James Lawrence to examine how artists give shape and meaning to the passage of time, and how the passage of time shapes our evolving accounts of art.
Course of Empire
Ed Ruscha sat down with Tom McCarthy and Elizabeth Kornhauser, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to discuss the nineteenth-century artist Thomas Cole, whose Course of Empire paintings inspired a series of works by Ruscha more than a century later.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2018
The Winter 2018 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available. Our cover this issue comes from High Times, a new body of work by Richard Prince.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2018
The Spring 2018 Gagosian Quarterly with a cover by Ed Ruscha is now available for order.
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: On the Highline
The High Line Art Program’s Cecilia Alemani discusses Ed Ruscha’s mural.
Jean-Michel in Black and White
Fred Hoffman looks back on the creation of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Tuxedo (1983), examining the work’s significance in relation to identity and the hip-hop culture of the 1980s.