Ed Ruscha

American artist Ed Ruscha is widely celebrated for his graphic practice which spans paintings, prints, drawings, artist’s books and photography. His art is often playful, humorous and ambiguous. It features pithy puns, deadpan slogans, and familiar catchphrases and has incorporated a wide range of unconventional media from gunpowder to chocolate and condiments.

Ruscha was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1937. After studying at the Chouinard Art Institute (now the California Institute of the Arts), he began his career in an advertising agency designing posters. His early typographic training proved formative. Fascinated by the visual, compositional and sonic effects of language, he has since spent the majority of his impressive six-decade-long career exploring words beyond their mere referential meanings. He rose to prominence in the late 1950s creating small collages that combined found imagery, text, and American pop culture. ‘My first paintings were of words that were monosyllabic’, he said, ‘guttural utterings, like “oof” and “smash”. Words that had some kind of vocal power to them and also had a social discord’.

Ruscha’s works trace a long love affair with California, and his adopted hometown of Los Angeles. These vibrant surroundings have inspired some of his most famous works, from his iconic images of the Hollywood sign to gas stations, buildings on Sunset Boulevard, road signs, swimming pools, and parking lots. His very first artist’s book Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962) comprised a series of photographs he had taken on his drives along Route 66 between Los Angeles and his parents’ home in Oklahoma City. Subsequent books, such as Every Building on Sunset Strip (1966), continued his signature use of serial documentary imagery. Ruscha, in the words of writer JG Ballard, has ‘the coolest gaze in American art’.

Absorbing and transforming the mundane in modern everyday life — its built urban landscapes, vernacular language and ubiquitous commercial symbols — Ruscha’s prolific and experimental practice draws from a wide range of post-war American movements, such as Pop and Conceptual Art, as well as artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.

One of the 20th-century’s most influential image-makers, Ruscha’s widespread acclaim has continued to grow in recent years. In 2023, his most comprehensive retrospective to date opened at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. His bold text paintings achieve major prices at auction, with Hurting the Word Radio #2 selling for US$52,485,000 in the Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale in New York.


ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Various Small Fires, from Book Covers

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Let's Keep in Touch

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Home with Complete Electronic Security System

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Western Horizontal

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Tumbling Snowman Speedo

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Columbus, Sunset, from Los Francisco San Angeles

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Geary, Wilshire, from Los Francisco San Angeles

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Highland, Hyde, from Los Francisco San Angeles

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

La Brea, Powell, from Los Francisco San Angeles

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Melrose, Market, from Los Francisco San Angeles

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Sunset, Pierce, from Los Francisco San Angeles

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Wilshire, Grant, from Los Francisco San Angeles

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

L.A.S.F. #2

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

L.A.S.F. #3

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

Hurting the Word Radio #2

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Burning Gas Station

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

Dear Friend

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

Mint (Red)

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

Liquids, Gases and Solids

Ed Ruscha

Strange Catch for a Fresh Water Fish

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

Hell Heaven

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

Radio on Royal Blue

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

An Invasion of Privacy

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

The Mountain

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

City, with Marbles

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Western with Fly

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

Brave Men Run in My Family

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

Woman on Fire

ED RUSCHA (b. 1937)

Chain and Cable

ED RUSCHA (b. 1937)

The Future

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Do You Think She "Has It"?

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

Rehab Pump Doctors

ED RUSCHA (B. 1937)

Bowling Ball, Olive