Inverleith House, Edinburgh,
through 14 October 2001.
‘I’m creating (in the paintings) some sort of disorder between the different elements. And avoiding the recognisable aspect of living things by painting words. I like the feeling of an enormous pressure in a painting,’ says Ruscha.
He was evidently much influenced meeting Marcel Duchamp in Pasadena, in l963. On the occasion he was especially struck by the ‘gravitas’ of the elegantly suited Frenchman and by the sense of enigma he created. But Ruscha’s own career, in his view, recognises no real watershed or turning point; it is ‘a variation on a theme. I see that what I’m doing today, I was doing when I was eighteen.’ He still recognises the vitality of street culture as the essential catalyst of inspiration.
The mountain paintings in Edinburgh represent humanity and nature in uneasy coalition. The lettering stands proud, tentatively so, in relation to the snow-capped ranges. Los Angeles is still at the core of Ruscha’s sensibility, and such everyday mundanity as road signage is a reassuring human presence in all circumstances. ‘I like the oddity of nature in the background,’ says Ruscha.
The artist had much earlier explored working out his ideas in alternative media, such as egg yolk, chocolate, blood, so rejecting the hold of paint as such over artists. This method was memorable in his contribution to the l970 Venice Biennale. Today, he appears in masterly frame, and yet wholly consistent in his development over four decades.
On 3 November 2001, a Ruscha retrospective will open at Museum of Modern Art, Oxford.
Lucy McKenzie: Prime Suspect
A mid-career survey of the Brussels-based Scottish artist conceals big questions in illusionistic marvels
Music From The Balconies – Ed Ruscha and Los Angeles
Moving to Los Angeles at 19, having grown up in Oklahoma City, Ed Ruscha was always an outsider. His detached perspective is a quality that has remained in his work – which would become so concerned with the city – over the decades that followed
The American Dream: Pop to the Present
This exhibition pops and sparks, but ultimately goes out with a disappointing fizzle, leaving us to wonder what happened to the American dream
Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950
In his novel The World Set Free (1913), the science fiction writer HG Wells described a post-atomic world in which a new weapon of mass destruction, the atomic bomb, had been discovered.
Los Angeles takes Manhattan
It is a fine New York moment for California. For no reason that art-worlders can explain, six of Los Angeles’ slow-to-emerge, mid-60s-generation artists have taken over major venues in the city and, with no competition from West Chelsea’s summer shows – the majority held over from spring – are holding court like rock stars.