I like the idea of a word becoming a picture, almost leaving its body, then coming back and becoming a word again. Ed Ruscha
Ed Ruscha, painter, printmaker, photographer and filmmaker, was born in 1937 in Omaha, Nebraska. His diverse body of work has received international acclaim and has been the subject of numerous solo museum exhibitions in recent decades, including shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Hayward Gallery, London and the Kunstmuseum, Basel. Ruscha represented the United States at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005.
In the early 1960s, Ruscha selected words as the main subject and inspiration for his work. Subsequently, in 1966 and 1967, he employed almost exclusively the word as a motif, and his use of letters, words, and phrases continued throughout his career, including in his most recent works.
This exhibition focuses solely on one of the most striking chapters in Ed Ruscha’s ambitious and influential oeuvre – the ribbon word drawings. Created largely between 1966 and 1973, these drawings were based on imaginative, three-dimensional paper word-objects. Using a sophisticated trompe l’oeil technique, first with graphite, and later gunpowder, ultimately complemented with pastels, the artist produced convincing renderings of these objects and their materiality. Ruscha discovered gunpowder by accident and, extracting it from gunpowder pellets, found it to be an ideal medium. He used cotton balls and Q-tips to rub the gunpowder into the fibers of various types of paper. The mellifluous letters were created using stencils, while simple masking tape helped sharpen the outer edges of the illusory pictorial window with filigree precision and finesse.
Ruscha’s ribbon drawings evoke the quality of silent films, as well as cityscapes, sculptures and objects. His imaginary ribbon word objects invite open-ended interpretation, encouraging the viewer to explore a vast and multifarious world of infinite associations.
Curated by Dieter Buchhart, this exhibition will include numerous works from private collections as well as important loans from public institutions, including Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth and The Museum of Modern Art New York, among others. This show will be the largest and most comprehensive of this subject to date.
A fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Buchhart, Glenn O’Brien, and Alexandra Schwartz, author of Ed Ruscha’s Los Angeles (MIT Press, 2010), will accompany the exhibition. This publication will be distributed by ARTBOOK | D.A.P., New York.