Author(s): Richard Marshall
Restlessly inventive, Ruscha has remained a step ahead and apart from the art trends and movements of his time. Pop Art, Conceptual Art, Surrealism, Photo Realism, and today's renewed focus on painting resonate in a body of work that ultimately defies categorization. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1937, Ruscha lived in Oklahoma City until he moved permanently to Los Angeles in 1956, where he studied at the Chouinard Art Institute until 1960. Side jobs in typography and layout, a revelatory trip to Europe, and influential encounters with Jasper Johns art contributed to an artistic vision attuned to the prosaic look and language of popular culture. By the early 1960s Ruscha was well known for his paintings, collages, and printmaking, and for his association with the Ferus Gallery group, which also included artists Robert Irwin, Edward Moses, Ken Price, and Edward Kienholz. He later achieved recognition for his paintings incorporating words and phrases and for his many photographic books. This book, now in paperback, is the first monograph on Ed Rucha. It is organized in thematic chapters that follow the work roughly chronologically concluding with his recent mirror mountains works shown at the Gagosian Gallery in NY in spring 2002. This organization brings to light the surprising diversity of Ruscha s work, while at the same time showing the recurrence of themes and styles throughout his career. Rather than focusing on a long, daunting scholarly essay illustrated by the artist s painting, this book is first and foremost about the work. Rather than using the paintings to illustrate his text, author Richard Marshall, in the manner of an informed curator, writes his text to illustrate the paintings. This is obvious in the design of the book, which allows the work to speak for itself in generous, beautifully reproduced plate sections.
Richard Marshall is an independent curator and critic who, during his twenty-year tenure as curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, worked extensively with Ruscha. He is the author of Edward Ruscha Los Angeles Apartments, and has published many books and exhibition catalogues on artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Louise Bourgeois, among others. In 2002 he curated the exhibition Edward Ruscha: Made in Los Angeles at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid Author's Residence: New York, NY.