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ED RUSCHA | the Influential 'West Coast' Pop Artist
May 19th 2018
For more than fifty years, Ed Ruscha has been an influential figure in postwar American painting and one of contemporary art's most significant graphic artists. His oeuvre melds Pop art iconography with Conceptual art. His is a multi-faceted practice that spans drawing, painting, photography, film, printmaking, and publishing and Ruscha’s background as a graphic designer is evident in his attention to typography in his works.
by Carys Lake-edwards
NEWS FROM EYESTORM
Rather than simply painting a word, Ruscha considers the particular font that might add an elevated emotion to its meaning, much like the way a poet considers syntax. By painting a word as a visual, the artist is marking it as endorsed, exalting it as an object rather than a mere piece of informative text. Ruscha is perhaps best known for his word-paintings, which skew the meaning of each word through color, background, and typeface. Of his work the artist has remarked: “I like the idea of a word becoming a picture, almost leaving its body, then coming back and becoming a word again”.

Ruscha’s love of language, especially that of signs and billboards from highways and the inner city, can be seen in the common abbreviation and typographically stylised lettering of ‘BLVD.’, ‘AVE.’ and ‘ST.’ that are prevalent in his most important works. The viewer may not immediately recognise that this grid-like pattern of wording is a street map, were it not for the text, which in itself takes on the appearance of the gritty, flat, monochromatic routes of the city streets that it denotes. The words are indeed the only indication of a human element in Ruscha’s sparse cityscapes and so perfectly illustrate his innovative style, that of directness, clarity and economy of means.
ED RUSCHA
Street Meets Avenue, 2000

Edition of 100
76(w) x 56(h) cm
30.24(w) x 22.36(h) inches
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ED RUSCHA
Street Meets Avenue, 2000

Edition of 100
76(w) x 56(h) cm
30.24(w) x 22.36(h) inches
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76(w) x 56(h) cm
30.24(w) x 22.36(h) inches
Lithograph on Rives BFK paper
Edition of 100
Available from a private collection
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In the 1990s, Ruscha began a series of paintings developing on this theme, which showed simplified street locations of Los Angeles from an aerial perspective. Eyestorm collaborated with the artist at the end of this decade to release one such image, Street meets Avenue, which became a successful limited edition off 100 lithographic prints. In contrast with earlier landscape works by Ruscha which are colourful stereotypical rural scenes, Street meets Avenue appears anonymous, urban and abstract. For the painting that inspired this print, Ruscha used an airbrush tool and acrylic paint in order to achieve what art historian Richard D. Marshall has called ‘phantom avenues spray-painted on grounds of modulated greys and blacks’.

Constantly inventive, Ruscha continues to work to this day with intriguing combinations of picture and language in the editioned work that has become integral and essential to his art. Ruscha has been labeled by many, a ‘West Coast’ artist yet he is unique in that although Los Angeles is undeniably the source of inspiration for his art, yet the themes he addresses are far-reaching and universal. A growing interest in Ruscha’s work in recent years has led to major exhibitions that toured the United States, and a number of solo shows in Europe and one such show will be coming to the United Kingdom this summer as the artist brings his contribution to the 2005 Venice Biennale, to the National Gallery in in London.

Exploring the theme of 'progress, or the course of progress,' Ruscha’s solo exhibition will reference English-born American painter Thomas Cole’s famous painting cycle of 1833-36, The Course of Empire. Ruscha’s ‘Course of Empire’, and is open from June 11th through Oct 7th, 2018, at The National Gallery. With its focuses on the industrial buildings of Los Angeles - simple, utilitarian structures are presented with no pretention to beauty but strong reminiscent of economic might and global reach - it’s definitely not one to miss; quintessential Ruscha at his best.
 
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Unifying the natural world, mythical characters and the innate power of the female, Lucie Bennett’s contemporary portraits of empowered women have been the central theme from early in her artistic practice. Although having escaped the passing of time in their striking appearance, the artist’s minimalist line drawings have evolved over the past two decades, leading to works which today are celebratory of the modern powers of the female. Thundercloud, Eve I and Eve II represent three of the artist’s early screenprinted works.
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Recommended Reading
An interest in movement, light, growth and decay of nature have brought Andy Goldsworthy onto rural fields and into the wilderness for five decades. Giant snowballs melting in river streams; reconstructed stonewalls - made from the rocks of derelict ones - twisting their way through the fields and forests; or rounded sculptures rising in remote places. Serving as a reminder of the historical bond between nature and people, the vital impermanence of artist’s works gives in to thoughts of constant change. Between 1995 and 2002 the artist created several site-specific cairns - or monuments - around Digne, an Alpine town in Southern France. Complemented by Goldsworthy’s diary from the making of the final sculptures, three photographic editions were released from the ‘Digne Projects’.
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INTEREST IN EARLY PRINT EDITIONS BY LUCIE BENNETT
Pink Knickers
For more than a decade Lucie Bennett has been seducing viewers with her silhouette line drawings of haunting sirens, alluring pin-ups and supernatural nymphs. Her print editions from 2005 - 2012 are increasingly being requested by collectors.

If you own a print, such as Pink Knickers, Green Felt Tip Girl or Red Felt Tip Girl and you wish to sell, we have clients who are looking for select pieces. You can get in touch with us via the Contact page, which you can find here.
 
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