Ed Ruscha

Born 1937 in Nebraska, Ruscha grew up in Oklahoma before eventually heading to California. His childhood friend Mason Williams of “Classical Gas” did the same thing. Once in Southern California Ed’s art talent defined a whole era. One of the sentinel artists at Ferus Gallery, he became known for modern art with text.

My interest in Ruscha is his photography. Wikipedia on this subject:

Photography has played a crucial role throughout Ruscha’s career, beginning with images he made during a trip to Europe with his mother and brother in 1961, and most memorably as the imagery for more than a dozen books that present precisely what their titles describe. His photographs are straightforward, even deadpan,in their depiction of subjects that are not generally thought of as having aesthetic qualities. His “Products” pictures, for example, feature boxes of Sunmaid raisins and Oxydol detergent and a can of Sherwin Williams turpentine in relatively formal still lifes.  Mostly devoid of human presence, these photographs emphasize the essential form of the structure and its placement within the built environment.  Ruscha’s photographic editions are most often based on his conceptual art-books of same or similar name. Ruscha re-worked the negatives of six of the images from his book Every Building on Sunset Strip. The artist then cut and painted directly on the negatives, resulting in photographs that have the appearance of a faded black-and-white film.  The Tropical Fish series (1974–75) represents the first instance where the photographic image has been directly used in his graphic work, where Ruscha had Gemini G.E.L.‘s house photographer Malcolm Lubliner make photographs of a range of common domestic objects. 

The work that put Ruscha on the map was Actual Size , 1962. This was his announcement of his love for the banal and text in his creations.


Forgotten until I was researching Ruscha was my rendition of this work – 1968 my family was in Southern California and we went to LACMA – Los Angeles County Museum of Art and I snapped this photo in B/W:

Dutifully recording the camera , lens, developer I used. I wished that I would have paid more attention to the framing!


Survival of the Fittest – would pertain to Ruscha as he learned to exhibit and sell on the East Coast and not be insulated. He often said that he could do his art anywhere, many felt that this was not really true.

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