Ed Ruscha American, b. 1937
Ed Ruscha is an American artist whose oeuvre melds Pop Art iconography with the documentarian rigor of Conceptual Art. With a practice that spans drawing, painting, photography, film, printmaking, and publishing, Ruscha’s background as a graphic designer is evident in his subtle use of typography. He is perhaps best known for his artist’s books, such as Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963), as well as his word paintings which skew the meaning of each word through color, background, and font. “I like the idea of a word becoming a picture, almost leaving its body, then coming back and becoming a word again,” he said of his inspiration.
Born on December 16, 1937 in Omaha, NE, he grew up in Oklahoma City before moving to Los Angeles to study art at the Chouinard Institute (now the California Institute of the Arts). Deeply influenced by the culture and atmosphere of Southern California, Los Angeles as a place has proved to be a consistent wellspring for Ruscha’s imagination. In 2016, he was the subject of a sprawling exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, titled “Ed Ruscha and the Great American West,” it included 99 works which dealt with America’s captivation with the western landscape and manifest destiny.
The artist’s works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Tate Gallery in London, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He continues to live and work in Los Angeles, CA.