Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VA… 显示更多 Ed Ruscha: Recent Paintings Ed Ruscha's paintings often combine a sense of landscape and a sense of signage. This is especially true in some of his most recent pictures. This combination owes itself in part to Ruscha's move to California and his subsequent life there. The road to reach the City of Angels took him through vast arid tracts of land, the flat and barren view punctuated occasionally by road signs which appeared as flashes of information. This was heightened by the centrality of the car to life in Los Angeles: 'the automobile and space and all that, these have a lot to do with my work. If I didn't drive, if I lived in a place where there were no cars, I'm sure I would think about things entirely differently' (Ruscha, quoted in B. Blistène, 'Conversation with Ed Ruscha', pp. 126-41, Edward Ruscha: Paintings Schilderijen, exh. cat., Rotterdam 1990, p. 134). Modern media and modern motorways are filled with advertising, and it is this attention-grabbing visual language that has influenced Ruscha. In Metro, Petro, Neuro, Psycho, words filled with electric colour, with tangible energy, are shoutily displayed superimposed upon one another. Here more than anywhere can we see what Ruscha means when he refers to 'visual noise'. This condenses the visual impact of life in our frantically communication-centric society, the snap and fizzle of the ads and images that surround us all the time in the metropolitan and cosmopolitan environment. 'I responded to contemporary life, city life; the words I picked were pulled off the street, for their street power rather than their poetry power' (E. Ruscha quoted in A. Schwartz (ed.), Leave Any Information at the Signal: Writings, Interviews, Bits, Pages, Cambridge & London 2002, pp. 281-82). The words that have been the idiosyncratic focus of so many of Ruscha's most celebrated paintings are decontextualised then recontextualised, prompting the viewer to reappraise them on many levels. Their formal qualities as a combination of shapes are brought to the fore, as are the strange, arbitrary-seeming, tagged-on notions of meaning that we attach to them. The strange absurdity of language is brought to the fore in Metro, Petro, Neuro, Psycho by the strange, half-rhyming, rhythmic echoes that run through each of the individual word pools. They appear to have a churning momentum, and as such give a strong impression of the sensory overload that greets the average passer-by walking through Piccadilly Circus or Times Square. Metro, Petro, Neuro, Psycho is a relative rarity in Ruscha's work in that it is a vertical painting. More often, his pictures heighten the association with the sign-strewn desert through which Route 66 passes by being horizontal. Sometimes even the essentially anonymous and detail-less backgrounds are articulated by a gentle shift of light that hints at some distant horizon. 'I'm a prisoner of the idea of the landscape in painting and it's something I've continued to be tied to,' he has explained. 'I have a very locked-in attitude about painting things in a horizontal mode. I think I'm lucky that words happen to be horizontal, that letters follow one another with spaces and pauses and then more letters in order to make up words and sentences' (Ruscha, quoted in R. D. Marshall, Ed Ruscha, London 2003, p. 180). This is especially evident in Averages and The Teepees, which both have strange silhouetted landscapes in the background. One shows a fairly average-looking outline of a fairly average-looking house, the other shows the foggily focussed shapes of teepees, the central one appearing all the more haunting for its resemblance to an outstretched hand (albeit with a surplus digit). Here, Ruscha has conjured up some of the spirit of the nineteenth-century Romantic landscape painters. There is a sense of awe and mystery to these landscapes, an atmosphere of the unknown, the lurking. At the same time, they are strangely filmic, tangentially touching upon the world of movies that has so intrigued Ruscha. Is it in relation to the posters advertising those movies that both these works have strange, censored strips? Here, Ruscha plays a neat game with his viewers' expectations: the appearance of a monochrome rectangle on any other artist's canvas could mean anything, but in Ruscha's paintings the viewer cannot help but see them as blanked-out words. The entire information and representation process has been deliberately blurred, confused and disrupted. We see words where none exists. Discussing these blanks, Ruscha has said, 'I think you could look at them on one hand as though they were a device, something to get me through this thing: this act of painting or this act of telling whatever story I have to make. It can suggest to you something like a censor's strip. Or it can suggest the opposite. It can suggest a space for thought' (Ruscha, op.cit., ed. Schwartz, 2002, p. 282). While this points on the one hand to the centrality of the actual act of painting, of the artistic process, in Ruscha's works, it also reveals the degree to which he seeks to prompt the viewer into thought. We navigate the strange visual ambiguities that he captures in his poetic and mysterious way. The juxtaposition between word and landscape is strangely surreal, and therefore relates to Ruscha's general dictum that, 'Art has to be something that makes you scratch your head' (Ruscha, quoted in Marshall, op.cit., 2003, p. 135).
Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

Metro, Petro, Neuro, Psycho

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)
Metro, Petro, Neuro, Psycho
signed and dated 'Ed Ruscha 1998' (on the reverse)
oil on shaped canvas
79¾ x 46 1/8in. (202.6 x 117cm.)
Painted in 1998
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London (AO17623).
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2000.
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Please note that this work was included in the following exhibition: London, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, Ed Ruscha: New Paintings and a Retrospective of Works on Paper, June-July 1998 (illustrated in colour, p. 15).
Please note that this work will be included in the forthcoming Edward Ruscha Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, edited by Robert Dean and Erin Wright (illustrated in colour).