|A painter, printmaker, and filmmaker, Edward Ruscha was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1937, and lived some 15 years in Oklahoma City before moving permanently to Los Angeles where he studied at the Chouinard Art Institute from 1956 through 1960.
By the early sixties he was well known for his paintings, collages, and printmaking, and for his association with the progressive Ferus Gallery, which also included artists Robert Irwin, Edward Moses, Ken Price, and Edward Kienholz.
Ruscha has consistently combined the cityscape of his adopted hometown with vernacular language to communicate a particular urban experience. Encompassing painting, drawing, photography, and artist's books, Ruscha's work holds the mirror up to the banality of urban life and gives order to the barrage of mass media–fed images and information that confronts us daily. Ruscha's early career as a graphic artist continues to strongly influence his aesthetic and thematic approach.
In 1962 Ruscha's work was included, along with Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Dowd, Phillip Hefferton, Joe Goode, Jim Dine, and Wayne Thiebaud, in the historically important and ground–breaking "New Painting of Common Objects," curated by Ferus Gallery alumni Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum. This exhibition is historically considered one of the first Pop Art exhibitions in America.
Since 1964, Ruscha has been experimenting with painting and drawing words and phrases, often oddly comic and satirical sayings. When asked where he got his inspiration for his paintings, Ruscha responded, "Well, they just occur to me; sometimes people say them and I write down and then I paint them. Sometimes I use a dictionary." From 1966 to 1969, Ruscha painted his "liquid word" paintings. Ruscha achieved recognition for his word paintings and for his many photographic books, all influenced by the deadpan irreverence of the Pop Art movement.
Born and raised Catholic, Ruscha readily admits to the influence of religion in his work. He is also aware of the centuries–old tradition of religious imagery in which light beams have been used to represent divine presence. But his work makes no claims for a particular moral position or spiritual attitude.
Ruscha has been the subject of numerous museum retrospectives that have traveled internationally, including those organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1982, the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1989, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 2000, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in 2002, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney in 2004. Also in 2004, The Whitney Museum of American Art organized two simultaneous Ruscha exhibitions which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
In 2001, Ruscha was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters as a member of the Department of Art. ‘Leave Any Information at the Signal´, a volume of his writings and interviews, was published by MIT Press in 2002 and the first comprehensive monograph on the artist, Richard Marshall's ‘Ed Ruscha´, was published by Phaidon in 2003. In 2005, Ruscha was the United States representative at the 51st Venice Biennale. The traveling exhibition "Ed Ruscha, Photographer" opened at the Jeu de Paume in Paris in 2006. A major retrospective of Ruscha´s works is scheduled for 2009 in London, England.
"Streets are like ribbons. They're like ribbons, and they're dotted with facts. Fact ribbons, I guess. That's potential subject matter to me, and so I take some things and I write them down and I look at them forever and forever and forever, and I might use something 10 years afterward that I had noticed before, you see."
Select Museum Collections:
Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Whitney Museum, NYC
Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA
Norton Simon Museum, CA
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
National Galleries of Scotland
Tate Gallery, London
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